© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions
A regional collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Democrats To Hold Hearing Scrutinizing Funding National Parks During Shutdown

Judy Fahys/KUER News

U.S. House Democrats are holding a hearing Wednesday to look at how the Interior Department paid to keep national parks open during the partial government shutdown.

The Trump administration is the first in recent memory to use visitor fees to keep gates open, roads cleared and garbage cleaned at the most popular national parks during a shutdown.

Critics, including former Obama-era National Park Service director Jon Jarvis, saw this as a political move to lessen the shutdown’s impact on the American public.

Many congressional Democrats have expressed frustration about the move to reallocate the fees, which usually go toward things like building walking paths and other long-term maintenance projects.

“It is clearly not the intent of how those fees were to be used,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), chair of the U.S. House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which decides how funds are used in the parks.

McCollum said visitor fees are made up of a mix of entrance, campground and parking fees along with a dose of private money raised by park conservation groups.

“They are [for a] very specific use,” she said. “It’s not general obligation funds for employees or routine maintenance.”

The subcommittee has invited a former parks superintendent, a representative from the Government Accountability Office, and a representative from the left-leaning Center For American Progress to testify at the hearing.

A spokesperson for the National Park Service said the Interior Department determined that using the funds to keep parks open was appropriate.

 This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. 

Copyright 2021 KUER 90.1. To see more, visit KUER 90.1.

Nate is UM School of Journalism reporter. He reads the news on Montana Public Radio three nights a week.
Nate Hegyi
Nate Hegyi is the Utah reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at KUER. He covers federal land management agencies, indigenous issues, and the environment. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, Nate worked at Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, and was an intern with NPR's Morning Edition. He received a master's in journalism from the University of Montana.
Related Content