Poll: Many think Obama closed parks as stunt

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Nearly one-third of voters say President Obama closed down the national parks during the shutdown as a political stunt.

That was among the findings of a new poll released on Monday that also found 57 percent of people think the parks were forced to close because Congress could not agree on a budget.

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The poll included roughly 1,000 voters from the 2012 election cycle who were surveyed by Hart Research Associates for the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.

Of those surveyed, 53 percent said they think Republicans are not doing enough to protect national parks, while 42 percent said Democrats are not doing enough.

Although Obama is trusted more when it comes to protecting public lands, independent voters trust neither Democrats nor Republicans on the issue.

“The closure of national parks during the government shutdown sensitized the American public to their tremendous economic importance, as confirmed by the three in four voters who believe that park closures had a serious adverse impact," Craig Obey, of the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement.

"In fact, over the 16 days that national parks were closed, local economies felt an estimated loss of a half billion dollars in direct visitor spending — a conservative figure that underestimates the total economic loss."

A majority of voters across party lines want to see increased support for new parks and public lands, according to the poll.

Images of barricades in front of national monuments and parks became fuel for a raging debate throughout the 16-day government shutdown.

The House Natural Resources Committee will revisit the shutdown debate over the national parks this week.

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart (R) has proposed a bill that would allow states to fund and keep operations running at parks and other federal facilities or programs that directly affect tourism, mining, timber, or transportation during a shutdown.

Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) has another bill that would require states to be repaid for expenses within 90 days after a shutdown ends.

Republicans received the majority of the blame for the government shutdown but held the administration responsible for shuttering national sites.