Groups worry about future of parks after shutdown

Groups are growing more and more concerned over the future of national parks following the closure of the sites during October's government shutdown.


The conservation group Environment America is launching a Facebook campaign on Thursday urging President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellNational parks pay the price for Trump's Independence Day spectacle Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone MORE to take swift action on protecting the nation's public lands.

The recent government shutdown did contribute to timing of the campaign, Mary Rafferty of Environment America said.

"It cannot be more obvious," Rafferty said.

"Now more than ever you can see that the parks are important because of the national parks that were closed during the government shutdown."

The conservation group wants Obama and Jewell to follow in President Teddy Roosevelt's footsteps of permanently protecting parks.

"Congress is broken when it comes to protecting public lands," Rafferty said, which is why the group is looking to Obama.

And they would like to see action taken within the next few months.

Similarly, a new coalition of mayors from U.S. cities will announce their bipartisan effort to support federal funding for improving access to national parks next week.

A major issue of contention for the coalition — which includes mayors from Texas, Colorado, and Oregon — are funds paid by royalties for offshore oil and gas development that they claim the federal government has diverted from public lands.

The mayors will discuss future efforts and whether the shutdown created a sense of urgency to act during a call next week.

Republicans blasted Obama and the Interior Department for barricading the World War II Memorial and other national park sites during the shutdown, arguing it was unnecessary.

Relenting to pressure from governors, the administration entered into agreements with six states, allowing them to reopen certain national sites during the 16-day government shutdown.