The Washington Post

National Parks losing revenue under shutdown


The government shutdown that started nearly three weeks ago has cost the National Park Service nearly half a million dollars in entrance fees and tens of millions of dollars in visitor spending each day, according to a group representing the agency’s retirees.

The Coalition of National Park Service retirees estimated that the park system has missed out on about 715,000 visitors daily, based on October 2012 attendance numbers, according to a statement last week from the organization.

The group calculated that the tourism drop off has cost $450,000 each day in fee collections and $76 million per day in lost visitor spending.

(Erik Petersen/For The Washington Post) (Erik Petersen/For The Washington Post)

One caveat for those numbers: They came out Thursday, which was one day before the Department of the Interior decided to reopen a dozen parks for between six and 10 days with funding from the states where they are located. That means the amount of lost revenue is likely to decline, at least while those parks remain open.

The five states that reached agreements with Interior are likely to seek reimbursement once the shutdown ends, but Congress would have to authorize the payments, according to a Post article.

Maureen Finnerty, chair of the retiree coalition, said in a statement Thursday that national parks could not open without staffing. “By essentially enabling looting, poaching, and vandalism, Congress would be taking what is already a dark episode in the history of our national parks and making it worse,” she said.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed or e-mail  josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



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