Park shutdown leaks a bit. Wyoming delegation tries to blame Park Service, Obama

We’ve seen it numerous times before when a member of Congress votes against funding their local district or state relies on, but then turns in a posture that says someone else was responsible and their local project could be run for free.

Wyoming Republican Senator John Barasso and Wyoming’s lone U.S. House member Cynthia Lummis just did that by blaming the Obama Administration and the Park Service for not leaving open various trails and scenic overlooks unstaffed at Grand Teton N.P.

Closure of the national parks and monuments has been one of the most most controversial aspects of the current government shutdown of all but certain “essential” services. This came when the House Republicans (the majority party there) failed to pass a “clean” continuing appropriation bill (a CR) to keep the government going when the new fiscal year arrived Oct. 1. Speaker Boehner’s party’s stated purpose was to force the President to somehow delay the Affordable Care Act by holding most of the government and its services hostage (giving it no money to operate).

Government workers not designated as “essential” are prohibited by law (the anti-deficiency act) from working. This holds even if they volunteer. The national park service maintains a skeleton staff to protect park resources and people. Yes, one illegal entrant has already had to be rescued.

The huge majority who would like to visit the Parks and Monuments are staying out of them for now, but then there are those few who don’t. So, people have illegally entered Grand Teton (and some cited), Yellowstone, Acadia (large number), Zion, Santa Monica Mountains N.M., and more.

Many apparently just wanted to enjoy the Parks, and in a time of no crowding! There has been some defacement of entrance/closure signs and some use of motor vehicles on trails/routes/roads always closed to them.

There is immense anger about the government dysfunction, but insofar as it is general anger and especially if directed towards the wrong source, the anger does no good (except as personal emotion).

Politicians and others will be happy to help guide and/or misdirect this feeling.

The biggest concern in Yellowstone has to be the deep backcountry up against the national forests where the elk hunt is underway. Hard to monitor, though the Parks always deploy a lot of effort for the hunt, the remote Park boundaries are a temptation to hunt that some nimrods can’t resist. What happens when strong enforcement disappears?

Back in Jackson, WY, responding back to Lummis and Barasso, “Those are just partisan talking points,” said Joan Anzelmo, speaking  for the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

– – –

The President has little say in what local government functions are closed or stay open in a time of deliberate shutdown. If he did, he could easily use carrots and sticks of closures and openings to bring most congressional opponents around to his wishes.

In fact it is the House Republicans who are offering carrots by saying they will give limited money for limited openings of agencies people are raising a ruckus over being shut, such as the Park Service and the Food and Drug Administration.

We will be linking to articles that tell of park and other public lands problems due to the strategic shutdown.


  1. Larry Zuckerman Avatar
    Larry Zuckerman

    Bet they were not too happy about Park Rangers writing tickets to some that illegally entered Grand Teton NP for a peek at the peaks or for a hike….

  2. john Avatar

    if you are an illegal alien, you are given inalienable rights to the country, if you are a legally born citizen, fought the wars, you have to pass through barricades…you don’t get money for burials if you die for the country, you can’t POSSIBLY believe that none of this sits on the head of the idiot in the whitehouse…if you do,your head is truly in the sand..

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Before you blame the illegal alien, you might think of the parasite hedge fund operator sitting on his billions, pissing contempt down on all of us from on high.

      I figure he wants to divert the blame from this deliberate mess onto lower classes who have no power, to create a scapegoat and keep himself rich. There is the kind of person who never served and probably is happy the House Republicans shut the government down and with it death benefits.

      I don’t like illegal immigrants, but it is kind of like kicking a dog because the robbers made away with the loot.

      1. Immer Treue Avatar
        Immer Treue


  3. Nancie Mccormish Avatar
    Nancie Mccormish

    Seems the shutdown of all but “essential services” also has a fluid definition:

    POSTED ON OCTOBER 10, 2013 AT 9:10 AM
    By Scott Sonner, Associated Press

    RENO, Nev.– The government shutdown is not a good enough reason to postpone a hearing scheduled in U.S. District Court in Reno on Thursday in a legal battle between the Interior Department and wild horse advocates over hundreds of mustangs gathered from a wildlife refuge on the Nevada-Oregon line, a federal judge has ruled.

    Justice Department lawyers filed a motion last week for a stay in the proceedings until Congress restores both agencies’ appropriations.


    1. Nancie Mccormish Avatar
      Nancie Mccormish

      Apparently the “shutdown” has not stopped horses from being shipped, potentially to the slaughter market, but has prevented any public observation of what is going on. Whatever your opinion on wild horses, they belong to us and we are paying for these monkeyshines:

      POSTED ON OCTOBER 11, 2013 AT 1:11 PM
      Amidst Government Shutdown, Feds Sending Wild Horses to Slaughter Middleman

      Fish & Wildlife Service Spending $250,000 to Launder Nevada Wild Horses into Slaughter Pipeline, Advocates Charge

      Reno, NV…. The government shutdown may be preventing many operations, including full staffing of federal wild horse and burro holding facilities, but it has not stopped officials at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northern Nevada from shipping 108 wild horses to a slaughter middleman in Mississippi. The horses are among the 400 captured off refuge lands in a September helicopter roundup. They are being held and processed in corrals at the refuge, which the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has declared off-limits to public observation.

      At a federal court hearing in Reno yesterday, Sheldon officials acknowledged that, although the government shutdown “forced” them to cancel a public observation of the captured horses, they were able to recall furloughed workers from five different refuges to process horses and send them to Stan Palmer of J &S Associates in Mississippi. Palmer is one of three of Sheldon’s approved “adoption contractors” and the only one with no website, no plan to adopt out the horses and an inability to account for the whereabouts of most of the 262 horses shipped to him from the Sheldon Refuge between 2010 and 2012. At least 82 of those horses were sold at a slaughter auction.

      The FWS will pay Palmer over $1000 per horse – or a total of more than $250,000 in taxpayer funds – to take approximately 240 of the 400 captured horses, despite the agency’s own own internal investigation that showed wild horses previously sent to Palmer had ended up in the slaughter pipeline. The plan has sparked public outrage — to date, over 15,000 citizens have called, emailed and faxed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to prevent her FWS service from turning horses over to Stan Palmer.

      “The government’s use of our tax dollars to launder wild horses captured from federal lands into the slaughter pipeline is outrageous,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom and founder of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC). “Equally outrageous is the Fish and Wildlife Service’s use of the government shutdown as an opportunity to dispose of these cherished wild horses out of public view.”

  4. snaildarter Avatar

    Whitehouse? This is problem has the tea party’s name all over it. The President can’t allow the tea-bubbas to cherry pick which agencies cause pain so their constituents aren’t hurt. If you are on the side that is willing to destroy America to get your way, deal with the pain it’s self-inflected.

  5. Kayla Avatar

    Now as for the shutdown, everyone is trying to blame the other guy but in reality bot are at fault. It always take two or two opposing sides to have a fight. Always.

    Now it is sooooo sad to me that it is the National Parks and areas that are caught in the middle of the fight along with all those that would like to visit them. The wildness that is in those Parks will go on. But will we stupid Two Leggeds go on? Now there is one thing that have seen in the Thorofare that is when the Cat is Gone the Mice will play. In other words when the rangers and law enfforcement personnel are gone there will be those that will try to take advantage of the situation.

    And as for the Thorofare, I can guarentee you that Yellowstone NP has one or several of it’s few law enforcement rangers back there right now. But the hunting season there is about to close on the 21st or so.

    But what is on my mind is how about some of the lesser parks or monuments which do not have the publicity as Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon, and in normal times might have just one or two law enforcement rangers. Wonder what is happening with them at present.

    Wishing Everyone the Best!

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Thank you, Kayla.

      We always appreciate your backcountry observations.

    2. JB Avatar

      “Now as for the shutdown, everyone is trying to blame the other guy but in reality bot are at fault.”

      I disagree. The continuing funding resolutions must originate in the House. The Republicans there are attempting to use ‘the power of the purse’ to shutdown parts of the government they do not like (e.g., the ACA) that are mandated by law (i.e., legislation that Congress has passed). Just imagine if every time we had a divided government the controlling party in the House said, ‘we’re only going to fund the programs we like’. Then the government could completely change every two years (with House elections). It’s no Obamacare now, but who knows which programs will be kicked out next time? This is no way to run a government, and the blame rests solely with the Republican party.

  6. Wolfy Avatar

    Good points, however, our parks are the visible tip of the iceberg. And the folks in DC can’t decide how to arrange the deck chairs. Sorry, this whole debacle reminds me of the Titanic.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      It is not a generic “folks in D.C.” thing. The closure was deliberate. It was planned as an extralegal bargaining tool. It is the Republicans. The President has no power to close the government. Only Congress has it at certain critical times.

      1. Wolfy Avatar

        Agreed, Ralph, it is the Repubs and their minions, the Tea Baggers, that are leading the head-long charge into making this country an oligarchy. Their corporate handlers are pushing them into taking down the economic structure of this country and lead us into a devastating depression. And the rich will get richer and the poor will become even more enslaved. I believe that we are seeing the most destructive, divisive, and corrupt administration to date. However, the Dems gotta share some of the blame. They wring their hands and say that they are powerless. BS, I say. There really isn’t much difference between the two parties; the repubs vote no ; the dems do nothing.

  7. CodyCoyote Avatar

    The State of Utah is paying out of its own tax base to keep all its Parks and national Monuments open , to the tune of $ 1.67 million.

    Wyoming and Montana governors say ” no way ” to the Dept. of Interior’s offer to reopen the gates of Yellowstone, Teton, and Glacier parks and the national monuments such as Devil’s Tower.

    A small irony: Wyoming colelcts quite a bit of tax revenue driectly from within the Parks…when they are open , that is. Sales tax, use tax, excises tax, lodging tax, and fuel taxes. Sos ticking to your ideological guns has some financial fallout.

    Funny thing is I always thought Utah as being just as conservative, a little more Republican, and a lot more of a Fed Hater than either Wyoming or Montana. Just not today…

  8. Sam Parks Avatar

    I have to say that I am deeply concerned about the lack of enforcement in some parks. I know the last time this happened, artifact thieves and looters had a field day in some of the southwestern parks. And what about the wolves? Is the YNP boundary patrol still sufficient enough to stop poaching of wolves in YNP (and other wildlife)?


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Ralph Maughan