Interior Dept: That shutdown cost our national parks $414 million, you guys

As you might remember, the Obama administration did just about everything it could think of to make the government shutdown last fall as visible, inconvenient, and outrageous as was humanly possible, including all kinds of Washington-Monument strategizing with our nation’s national parks both large and small. They gated off the open-air World War II memorial and scenic overlooks on the George Washington Parkway; they forced the innkeepers of a privately-run inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway to close up shop during peak leaf-viewing season; they tried to nudge states into shutting down even state-run properties for the duration of the shutdown. So, uhm… let that be a lesson to you? Via the Washington Examiner:

The 16-day government shutdown in October came at a $414 million economic loss to communities that host and surround national parks, the Interior Department said Monday.

Those figures are a preliminary estimate based on 7.88 million fewer park visitors in October compared with the previous three years. …

“[O]ur national parks help propel our nation’s economy, drawing hundreds of millions of visitors every year who are the lifeblood of the hotels, restaurants, outfitters and other local businesses that depend on a vibrant and reliable tourism and outdoor recreation industry supported by our public lands,” Jewell said. …

Jewell has blasted Republicans as well, as the shutdown hurt the National Park Service’s 16,000 employees. She has pushed the House to adequately fund the agency — the spending bill passed in January awarded it $2.6 billion, though the House had originally proposed $2.3 billion.

Yes, I suppose chiding Republicans for “their” shutdown while pushing for still more money to Interior’s budget so they can continue to add lands to the one-third of the surface area of the United States they already control and often grossly mismanage, is one option. But, if the Obama administration really wanted to do the great American landscape a favor and ensure that political antics don’t do so much to harm our economy and our environment, perhaps they should be looking at the bureaucracy-slimming, profitable, and revenue-generating public-private partnership options instead. They’re out there, and they work, whether big-government types want to consider them or not.

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