National Parks Closed to the Public, Open to Loggers


While national parks are closed to citizens during the shutdown, they frustratingly continue to remain open for miners, loggers, drillers, and other land-related workers.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent this letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack:

"Our federal lands are being mined, drilled, logged and just about everything else you can name — but because of the Republicans' reckless and irresponsible shutdown of the federal government, we can't be there to hike or camp, and our park rangers can't be there to respond to emergencies. We need to get our priorities straight … We, as Americans, own and protect for the future."

Unfortunately, beyond a debate of ethics, there are practical barriers to banning extraction. One of them being simply that there is no one to actually carry out the ban, according to ThinkProgress, since 81% of the Department of Interior has been furloughed.

The more chilling implication is that apparently, our government views extractive industries as more important than the actual job of governing. Any attempts to prevent oil and mining companies from legally sanctioned work would likely end up with the federal government facing Big Oil in court.

Nonetheless, people like Grijalva still feel a fundamental duty to fight for what they see as exploitation without government protection. And along with 77,000 other people, Grijalva has spread a message of civic engagement to his constituents via petition, nearly reaching his goal of 100,000 signatures.

Ultimately the debate over what entities, both corporate and public, may have access to government resources continues to rage a week after the jarring shutdown announcement. Judging by the current state of affairs, the likelihood of action before the October 17 default date is nearly nonexistent with this particular issue.