A woman walks past trash piled next to a garbage bin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Nonprofits, businesses and state governments across the country are paying bills and putting in volunteer hours in an uphill battle to keep national parks safe and clean for visitors as the partial U.S. government shutdown lingers. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Park Service to tap into entrance fees to keep operating

January 06, 2019 - 3:08 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department will dip into user fees to pay for staffing national parks during the government shutdown.

That's according to House Democrats who were notified Sunday of the department's plan to use Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement money.

Parks have largely remained open during the partial shutdown but are relying on outside help for security and upkeep.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana warned Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Saturday of "significant risk to property and public health" without funding. Three Utah Republican congressmen also asked Bernhardt to restart regular operations.

Democrats want the parks fully opened. But the incoming chair of the subcommittee overseeing Interior appropriations, Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum, said that dipping into user fees is "not acceptable" in this situation, and likely violates the law.

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