Phoenix – With Congress’ failure to reach an agreement on a budget before Tuesday’s midnight deadline, Bret Fanshaw, Environment Arizona’s advocate released the following statement on the environmental impacts of the government shutdown:
“No matter how far you came to see the Grand Canyon, visitors will be greeted by closed gates and empty ranger stations at our nation’s parks today as a result of the government shutdown.
“Across the country, more than 400 parks, wildlife refuges, historical battlefields and national forests will be closed to any and all visitors, including Grand Canyon, Saguaro and Petrified Forest National Parks in Arizona.
“Last year, in October alone, 811,829 visitors trekked to Arizona’s national parks. Having the doors close on ‘America’s best idea’ is bad enough, but continuing to allow our parks to be threatened by mining and pollution is truly deplorable.
“Additionally, a majority of personnel from the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are temporarily out of work, halting many of our nation’s critical clean air and clean water programs. Despite this lack of environmental oversight, most public lands and waters remain open to oil, gas, and mining operations, further threatening the well being of our treasured public lands.
“We urge Congress to keep our parks open for you and me – and to close them off to major polluters. Congress should quickly pass a budget which restores funding to our parks and gives our agencies the resources they need to keep our air and water clean and our parks and forests protected from pollution and development.”