If gov’t shuts down, what happens to visitors in the national parks?

Shutdown is likely. National Parks will be closed. Other public lands?

It looks more and more like a government shutdown of uncertain duration. Dept of Interior just made it clear that national parks and monuments will be closed down and “secured.”  I have to wonder what will happen come Saturday to all those currently inside of big parks like Yellowstone?

DOI said national wildlife refuges and BLM visitor facilities will be closed. I don’t know how they can bar entry to the hundreds of millions of acres of scattered BLM lands, but a lot of NWRs could have the access gates of major roads locked shut. National forests? That is the USDA. I haven’t read a statement from them.

We were on our way to some national parks, so I guess a lot of plans are being disrupted and people angry at the buffons in Congress. While others will no doubt disagree with me, I blame the tea party Republicans foremost for this totally avoidable problem of uncertain, but probably severe magnitude.


  1. Alan Avatar

    How do you shut down the northern road in Yellowstone? Only way in or our for Silvergate and Cooke City. Deliveries have to be made, people have to have access to grocery stores etc. Seems to me that it would take more people to enforce a “shutdown” of National Parks than to keep them open. I can understand Visitor Centers etc. but many roads in parks are the only way from here to there. How do you stop people from hiking in? A shutdown of National Forest, BLM lands etc. would be totally impossible as many people live on such lands or access to their homes is impossible without crossing such lands.

    1. Savebears Avatar

      The last time it happened, they did not close down the Northern road as it is a state hwy, but you had to show you had business in Cooke or you were a resident, the closure would not involve closing the NF or BLM roads, but there would be very few personal on duty..

      1. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate

        Also, some agencies have there budgets already appropriated for the next year. The VA for instance will not be affected by a government shutdown, because there budget is always 2 years out. I think that they are good to go through 2012…

        Other agencies are the same one would think.

  2. Bill in colorado Avatar
    Bill in colorado

    The truth is that big government does not believe that public land is owned by the people. They believe that the government own’s all public land. They have become worse then the most evil organization ever known to man.

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      Generalizations such as you have just made are ludicrous. If that’s the way you feel about our government, you should find a better place to live, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

      Perhaps you could say “certain” ranchers don’t believe public land is owned by the people.

      1. Dude, the bagman Avatar
        Dude, the bagman

        Once again, the truth is more complicated than the “common sense” that Bill is preaching. Once again he makes all plural words possessive.

        The government holds public lands in trust for the people. Because it belongs to everyone, you are not free to treat it as if it were yours exclusively.


      2. Dude, the bagman Avatar
        Dude, the bagman

        Not all plural words in this case, but all words that end with an s.

  3. Alan Avatar

    Thanks, SB. So the gate will still be manned, then? Do you remember about hiking in?
    Bill, let me get you a cup of tea, man! I know if some had their way all public lands would be sold off to pay down the debt., but meantime they still belong to the people. The rangers work for the people and protect the resource. Frankly I wouldn’t want a bunch of people running around these national treasures without rangers on duty.

    1. Savebears Avatar

      Being honest with you Alan, I don’t know how they could monitor hiking in anymore than they do now, it is not hard to get into some of the National parks if your wiling to walk…

      1. Elk275 Avatar

        It said in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that the road to Cooke City would remain open for travel but one could only stop for an emergency such as a flat tire or engine problem. Stopping to look at wolves or elk is not an emergency and the few rangers working could issue a citation.

  4. Virginia Avatar

    Last time I checked, government employees were the ones who monitor the public lands, such as national parks, monuments, forest service facilities. We are the government and we all “own’s” the lands. We employee the people who manage and monitor these lands and facilities. If you are in Colorado, you probably know about Rocky Mountain National Park, which I am pretty sure is managed by the government employees you employ. (Troll)

  5. Bill in colorado Avatar
    Bill in colorado

    When they tell you that you have to prove that you are innocent, what kind of oppressive bunch of B.S. is that. The Constitution say’s that you are innocent until proven guilty. What I’m trying to say is that there is proof all around us that the Government is not owned by the people. The GOVERNMENT has become incorporated. That is why they have corporate courts they do not have to obey the constitution. You see they feel they are above the law. The idea that you can trust a completely unregulated organization like our government is pure ignorance! What is going on now with the Tea party is brilliant. This is the first time in many years that we are getting people elected that are not being controlled by the One World Governemnt agenda. They actually read and understand the Constitution. They understand that unless we follow the Constitution we will not survive as a soverign nation. The Democrats have openly admitted that they are trying to bankrupt us so that we will be cut down to size like the rest of the world. What’s behind this is rich elite people trying to get richer and more powerfull thru controling a one world centralized government. Our country is the last obstacle in their path if we become a socialist country then they win and we loose. Just take a look at the Federal Reserve Bank and you will understand how they have been trying to control our government and strip our rights. They’ve been doing a good job of indoctrinating people thru public school’s and university’s. You will notice the more time someone spends in school the more liberal (socialist) they become. 95% of professor’s are big time socialist’s.

    1. Kayla Avatar

      Now there was an article in the morning’s Jackson Hole Daily on this that the northern road in Yellowstone would be open since it is an highway to Cooke City. But the only stopping permissable would be for emergency purposes like a flat tire. And they said, stopping to look at wolves would NOT be an emergency. And they would put up notices at different trailheads for the people that are in the backcountry.

      Now heard someone say that in 1995 when it last happened and Zion NP was closed. The only people left working was the Law Enforcement Rangers.

      But I myself am headed south to the Escalante Southern Utah Country. Now closing a major park like Yellowstone or Zion is one thing. But the federal Government closing off ALL the Public Land in this country. That is another completely ball of wax and they do NOT have that personnel to do that job. Do think even in the case of ‘Martial Law’ the Fed. Government would NOT have the manpower to close down ALL the empty wild public land in this country. Do think for most of the west, it means closing of certain roads, visitor centers, campgrounds, etc. – paid facilities. But again do think that they could never close off all the public land in this country.

      Ppersonally I blame both parties and this is in my opinion, nothing but theatrics because next year is an election year. Now neither side wants to be the one that blinks. Also it takes two sides to have a fight. It takes two to tangle. The Democrats are just as much to blame as the Republicans. I personally would NOT be surprised if this lasts for a good long time because of the 2012 election theatrics scene.

      Wishing Everyone the Best!

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        You have hit onto something with the elections!

        The trouble has become that one election takes place, and now before the new Congress or President even takes office they are jockeying for the next election without any time to consider policy that this not part of the their next election campaign.

        Nevertheless, there is a big policy battle here, and it is over real policy differences. The Republicans want big changes in many, many areas, and these changes are not really conservative as the word has been used for many years. Conservative means satisfaction with the status quo — the way things are — and those who say they are conservative certainly are not in favor of things the way they are. Property speaking they are “reactionary.”

        Reactionary is a stance seeking change back to some golden age (or time when things were in their property place), real or imagined.

        Progressives or liberals are not so dissatisfied. In a way this makes them the real conservatives. However, they would generally like to reduce the growing inequality of wealth in the United States and increase the number and amount of public goods (public services).

        Social conservatives would like to return to social conventions of 50? years ago where women did not work at “men’s jobs,” primarily concerned themselves with children, cooking, and religions, and sexual relations were limited (in theory) to men and women only and were monogamous.

        There are many exceptions to what I just wrote, and many politicians who profess liberal or conservative ideals primary serve one ideal, keeping their position in office.

    2. Kayla Avatar

      And Bill Personally I do Like the Tea Party myself! How many of them that are in BOTH parties sold their souls out to the International Bankers years and years and years ago.

    3. Nancy Avatar

      Bill in Colorado – do me a favor and watch this video:


      And, let me know your thoughts………..

    4. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      “The Dems…….like the rest of the world” Sorry there Bill, but that is an idiotic statement. Where were you when Pres Bush gave two tax cuts, a drug prescription bill, and two wars all of which were not paid for. You sh*&^baggers that rail about the Constitution are extremely naive, and hypocritical. Your post makes no sense. We are coming out of a recession, and now is not the time to gut programs and give the rich more tax breaks. I don’t think you would know what socialism was if it hit you between the eyes.

    5. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      Go back to your tar paper shack. By your logic, the less time people spend in school, the more conservative, and thus less informed, so the green light begins to flash for psycho babble. You’ve been spending too much time under the giant shadow of the great drug addled mass called Limbaugh.

      1. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate

        In the case of a government shutdown, the people who miss out on there reparations checks will flip out. Luckily the conservatives have invested in “crisis gardens” and stocked up on necessities. Liberals laugh at the thought of what is coming. Personally, I have been stocking up on lots of .22 rifles and ammunition. It’s much cheaper to shoot and the cartridge is accurate enough to take down game or humans. This is getting fun! I’ll be heading to my “compound” out of stanley in about a month and I’ll just be listening to talk radio and shaking my head.

      2. Alan Avatar

        Dang! I knew I should have listened to Glen Beck and bought some gold!

      3. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate


    6. MAD Avatar

      The Constitution say’s that you are innocent until proven guilty.

      I hate to break it to you Bill, I’ve taught a few classes in ConLaw, CrimLaw and Criminal Procedure, and nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is there an implicit presumption of innocence clause. It is a legal theory that is generally agreed upon due to the inferences from the 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments. So please stop with barroom philosophy and over-generalizations, because they weaken your argument.

  6. Alan Avatar

    “Now neither side wants to be the one that blinks.”
    The democrats have been doing nothing but blink.
    Boehner said he want 32 billion in cuts, the dems have given him 33 billion. Now he wants 60 billion or 100 billion or whatever. It’s like Reid said, “How can you kick a field goal when they keep moving the goal posts?” Problem is that for the tea-partiers it has nothing to do with saving money. They want to trash the healthcare law (doing so would actually increase the deficit), destroy the EPA, planned parenthood etc. They have targets. Political targets, and as long as the Democrats can cut spending without hurting those targets, they are going to want more.
    One thing I have to agree with Bill on though, “….You will notice the more time someone spends in school the more liberal…..”

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      Even the lunatic Michele Bachman voted NO on the house bill today that politicized our troops by adding riders to a simple bill to fund the troops. The Republicans have no clue how to govern that is obvious.

  7. Dude, the bagman Avatar
    Dude, the bagman

    Bill is another one of those people who love the Constitution but hate the actual system of government it creates.

    There’s a big degree of overlap with those people and the “get out and give us more money” sagebrush rebel types who hate the government and paying taxes but love their subsidies, roads, cops, firemen, military, etc.

    You can’t have it both ways.

  8. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    Damn that Socialist Federal government for helping the people in the West.


    AS Dude said, “You can’t have it both ways.”

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      I wonder what Bill would say about the Socialist Agriculture and Livestock Programs. The hypocrisy is stunning

  9. Alan Avatar

    Another question I would have would be how, if at all, a government shutdown, and a shutdown of Yellowstone National Park, would affect the 650 bison being held captive in the park?

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      Good question.

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I hope that folks will talk about this seriously and not trade conservative/liberal insults. That stuff takes place on almost every newspaper/blog on the web.

    1. Dude, the bagman Avatar
      Dude, the bagman

      He started it.

      1. Dude, the bagman Avatar
        Dude, the bagman


    2. David Avatar

      @ Ralph, That’s an interesting position to take after some of your opening comments above.

      You can’t really believe this can you? “Social conservatives want to return to social conventions of 50 yrs ago where women did not work at men’s jobs…” Really? Social conservatives want the repression of women. Subtle. You’re a very intelligent guy, but sometimes you make some incredible generalizations. This sentiment may exist in places, but… not in my generation anywhere in the 40 states I’ve been. Yes, there ARE young conservatives here in the US, and YES, we want the return to the “golden age” we weren’t alive for, probably never existed, but is taught in the history books. Most of all, we want selfless and virtuous government. We want the virtues we were taught to idolize: Democracy, Capitalism, Freedom. We may not want all the public services that liberals would like, but we certainly don’t want public services for corporations, subsidies and weak enforcement of environmental law. Many of us, like myself, even want to see GREEN policies prioritized and public land increased and protected.

      I think the issue is that both parties are beholden to donors, lobbies, etc. When Republicans do it, they’re in the pocket of Big Business. When Democrats do it, they are “being pragmatic”. I don’t agree with too many of the tea-partiers, but I respect the way it came into existence.

      We NEED both parties in this country. We need the give and take of constructive dialogue. But I think we need a Liberal version of the tea-party, one that is not already ingrained with Washington politics, because BOTH parties are inherently flawed, the system is flawed. The US sank 3 more places last year (now behind most of W. Europe) on the World Corruption List because the power of our democracy is increasingly being held in the hands of the elite/rich/powerful. That is not just the Republicans, and it certainly is NOT just the “conservatives.”

      Re: the shutdown,I agree it is revolting. But the fiscal policies in this country have been horrible for quite some time. Maybe a shutdown will be a wakeup call to the public that we need a bit of a political overhaul, on both sides of the aisle.

      1. David Avatar

        That said, seeing some of the things the Republicans get away with out in your neck of the woods, like declaring wolves the cause of a state of emergency… maybe your perspective isn’t as unrealistic as it would be out East…

      2. Ken Cole Avatar

        The preamble of the United States Constitution:

        “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

        Republicans in Idaho don’t give a crap about the general Welfare,. They only give a crap about the welfare of the fortunate. They don’t give a crap about Union either. They demonstrate this every day.

      3. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        The nonsense that is being passed in Maine and New Hampshire is just as crazy as anything that has been passed in the west. Republicans are so fanatical about their ideological views it is hard for Independents to take them seriously. They are now claiming that the debt issues are the reason why they were elected, iF I remember correctly the real reason was jobs and the economy. The reasons change to go along with the ideology- who cares about the facts or the reality.

      4. JB Avatar

        “We may not want all the public services that liberals would like, but we certainly don’t want public services for corporations, subsidies and weak enforcement of environmental law. Many of us, like myself, even want to see GREEN policies prioritized and public land increased and protected.”

        David: That sounds great, but weakening environmental laws is precisely what the continuing resolution passed by House Republicans would do. It seems the Republican Party is not representing your interests very well?

        You suggested that that the Democrats need their own version of the Tea Party. Some would argue that Democrats already have such a wing (the Green Party) which, in part, lost Al Gore the election in 2000. Regardless, I disagree. What we need is an end to gerrymandering “safe” districts that allow for the election of ideologues–the Tea Party can exist (in part) because of this practice; what we need is the press to hold politicians feet to the fire when they say things that are clearly falsifiable (e.g., wolves present a clear and immediate threat to the people of Idaho, global warming is a hoax, etc.); what we need (thanks to our conservative supreme court) is to change the Constitution to explicitly state the corporations are not entitled to free speech protections; but above all, what we need is an intelligent and informed (not indoctrinated) electorate. Currently, so-called “conservatives” are working against all of these things.

      5. Alan Avatar

        “Social conservatives want the repression of women.” David, the fact that “social conservatives” are currently about to shut down the federal government largely because they object to funding for women’s health kind of proves this, doesn’t it? The Democrats, as usual, have capitulated again and again on dollar amounts and have now agreed to 38 billion in cuts, up from 33 billion (which was what Boehner originally said he wanted). As I said before, it has nothing to do with saving money. It’s about rolling back social and environmental laws.
        Riders and amendments really, really have to go in Washington. I wish we could elect people who had the guts to do that (never happen). Everything deserves an up or down vote on its own merits after opportunity for debate. Remember, the anti-wolf amentment is floating around in their someplace too, and that was introduced by a Democrat, so it goes both ways. We, the American people, deserve a clean budget bill.

      6. Alan Avatar

        To do list:
        Must make right brain communicate with left brain before we hit “post comment”!

      7. Brian Ertz Avatar

        The Green Party did not lose the election for Democrats – Democrats failure to capture the Green Party votes lost the election for Democrats – that started with the selection of Joe Lieberman as VP, a clear indication of capitulation to the right wing of the Democratic Party.

        We cannot rely upon an unaccountable corporate-captured media anymore – any voice of reason is a meager spittle into the sea of corporate sponsorship invested in the false game that would suggest the only “viable” political choice is between monied Corporate Republicans and and monied Corporate Democrats.

        One may forget – activists all over the country organized behind a political actor who promised “Change” and “Hope” … what we got was more of the same spineless monied Corporate Democratic justification for capitulation to super-right wing ideologues.

        The Democratic Party had the House, the Senate and the Executive — and under the pretense of the need to equivocate to maintain such a majority squandered the opportunity to demonstrate what exactly they stood for – and lost the majorities anyway – lost them to bat-shit crazy tea-baggers who stood for something.

        If environmentalists are weak in their demands of Democrats – then Democrats will be weak in their representation of environmentalists.

      8. william huard Avatar
        william huard

        I am holding my breath hoping that these anti- environmental riders will not be used as a bargaining chip in this budget debate. This is exactly why the ESA needs to be protected so these fools in Congress cannot take advantage of and hold hostage legislation that would never pass on it’s own. That would be a shame- bit it wouldn’t be the first time that Democrats cave just to make a deal

      9. JB Avatar


        I disagree. In the absence of a Green Party, Gore would’ve likely garnered many of the votes that went instead to Nadar. In this respect, the Green Party could be said to have “caused” Gore’s loss.

        Regardless, I am all for multiple parties, but only if we fundamentally change the way we run elections. Under David’s system (i.e., assuming 4 viable parties), a president could be elected with as little as 25.1% of the vote. Now there’s a mandate.

        I think we fundamentally agree on the corrosive influence of corporations on our system of government. I agree that both parties are (in part) to blame. However, Citizen’s United was essentially a “party line” vote (with the exception of Stevens) in the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia wrote a separate concurrence in which he mocked Stevens for worrying that their ruling threatened to “undermine the integrity of the elected institutions across the Nation”; asserting that Stevens dissent was in “splendid isolation from…the first amendment.”

        The fact is that two of the justices that voted to extend free speech rights to corporations were appointed by George W. Bush, and you can rest assured that neither man would have been appointed by Al Gore. So while both parties are indeed guilty of capitulating to corporate greed, it is neither fair nor honest to equate their contributions.

  11. Alan Avatar

    …..”which, in part, lost Al Gore the election in 2000….” Correction JB, Al Gore won the election in 2000. He just didn’t win the White House.

  12. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    Does anyone know which anti ESA rider is part of the Republican bill- Is it Simpson’s? I just got an email alert stating that they were close to a deal and “most of the Riders have been resolved”. I wonder which riders are being used as bargaining chips in this debate? This really pisses me off

  13. Rita K.Sharpe Avatar
    Rita K.Sharpe

    William,All I know, it’s the EPA riders that were on the table for bargaining chips,but not the ESA. [ http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/147301-key-house-republican-well-drop-epa-riders-to-reach-agreement-on-spending-bill- ] I could be wrong. Sorry,I am not that knowledgeable on the computer.

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      I wasn’t sure but thanks for the heads up Rita

      1. Rita K.Sharpe Avatar
        Rita K.Sharpe

        Here is another one,William. [http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/riders-caused-the-storm-anti-abortion-and-anti-environment-measures-threaten-government-shutdown.php?ref=fpa ]

  14. Kayla Avatar

    Now there is an excellent Article at Trailspace on what
    would happen if there is a Government Shutdown as it
    relates to the Parks, Forests, and the Public Lands.
    Hope this is all right Ralph, but the link is at
    http://www.trailspace.com and is on the front page.

    Personally I have been thinking on Monday to head to the
    Escalante Canyons. But right now am not so sure with this
    shutdown and all and am wondering. This to me is nothing
    but Freaking Politics Bigtime! And from what am hearing this
    morning, all because of the freaking Planned Parenthood
    and Abortion … Good Grief!

    But again that article at trailspace is wonderful. There was
    an article on the shutdown in the local JH Daily. In it they
    said that the Nat’l Elf Refuge here at Jackson, even with the
    shutdown, will continue to feed the Elk on the Refuge. And
    next Monday, they were having a meeting on the topic of
    the continuation of the feeding this spring.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan