How a government shutdown could impact Utah’s national parks

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SPRINGDALE, Utah (ABC4) – If the government shuts down this could cause national parks to also shut down as officials tell ABC4 they are reviewing a contingency plan.

Sarah Adent is the manager at the Springdale Visitor Center near Zion National Park. After experiencing a government shutdown last winter, she says she’s worried.

“Last year was like the craziest winter I’ve ever seen here, we were slammed all day, which it should have not been that way because of COVID but it was just so busy,” she says.

Adent says without park rangers, many tourists are left visiting the park without professional guidance. She says it’s vital to plan ahead.

“It’s going to be mayhem there, of people just trying to get in and out probably turn around cuz’ it’ll be too busy for them to even want stay, so they’re probably going to come to us and think where the heck do we go, what are we doing, what’s going on inside the park? And at this point I don’t really have the answers,” she says.

The National Park Service officials tell ABC4 they are “reviewing a contingency plan and determinations about specific operations and programs have not been made”. A planning document from the 2018-2019 shutdown mentions the park ceased visitor services, including restrooms, trash collection and campground reservation services.

“If people do still come, if they don’t know what’s going on, it’s probably going to be good for business I’d say since there’s not much to do in the park, people will resort to the town,” she says.

Zion National Park officials say operations will continue normally for now. If the government does shutdown Thursday at midnight, Adent suggest people steer clear of the park to avoid traffic and congestion and resort to local cities and towns instead.

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