Officials are working Monday to nail down final details of contingency plans on how Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks will cope with a looming government shutdown that could arrive Tuesday, leaving the parks closed to all visitors.
Congress and the White House appear deadlocked in a showdown over an otherwise unremarkable budget measure. House Republicans are insisting that any continuing resolution to fund government operations include provisions to roll back or delay portions of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats and the White House have vowed to reject any bill that includes changes in health care. The stalemate could lead to a government shutdown at midnight that would see national parks across the country closed to visitors.
That would mean no visitors would be allowed into national parks on Tuesday and afterward until the shutdown is resolved.
Grand Teton spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said the park would be closed to all entry, including by vehicle, bicycle or on foot. Annual pass-holders also would not be allowed in, she said, although those who reside inside park boundaries would be allowed in.
No visitor services will be available, Anzelmo-Sarles said, and “concession operations would be closed and visitors would be required to vacate within 48 hours, but as early as possible.”
She said that a shutdown plan could allow for limited National Park Service functions to continue, mainly focused around essential services. This includes law enforcement, first responders, protecting and maintaining critical infrastructure and supporting those essential services.
Highway 26/89/191 from the Grand Teton’s south boundary to the east boundary would remain open for through traffic.
The move comes at a time when summer seasonal operations are winding down, but also when many park lovers visit to avoid the peak crowds. Any shutdown of the parks is likely to be unpopular in gateway communities, where small business owners increasingly rely on revenue from shoulder season visitors.
Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].