|The government shutdown proved to have a dramatic impact on our national parks, according to Phillip Elden. In his experience, Phillip Elden has witnessed how parks are at an even greater risk for wildfire as a result of poor cleanup efforts. In a recent conversation with Oceans 2003, Phillip Elden explained why it’s extremely important to be aware of how the government’s action affects the beautiful national parks in this country.
Oceans 2003: We’re happy to have you share your thoughts on the government shutdown.
Phillip Elden: It’s crucial that we remember how our public spaces have been compromised by this event.
Oceans 2003: The shutdown was poorly timed, particularly given the beautiful fall weather.
Phillip Elden: Agreed. Many travelers were compromised by these park closures, with October being a peak season for visitors.
Oceans 2003: Are parks back up and running now?
Phillip Elden: Even with the shutdown ending some parks have remained closed due to funding issues.
Oceans 2003: You mentioned an increased risk of wildfires…
Phillip Elden: With logging companies banned from doing government contract work many forests were put at risk as necessary logging that prevents wildfires was stopped in its tracks.
Oceans 2003: How did the government shutdown affect employees?
Phillip Elden: Many cleanup crews that were contracted by the government were forced to cease operations.
Oceans 2003: What does this mean for Americans?
Phillip Elden: Quite simply, if a tree topples over in a public space there is no one to clean it up.
Oceans 2003: That sounds troubling.
Phillip Elden: In the best of times, this can be a minor inconvenience. However, there are situations when it will be a severe hazard.
Oceans 2003: Should Americans expect more trouble in 2014?
Phillip Elden: With no resolution currently in place, be prepared for one more disruption in late winter.
Oceans 2003: What has been the impact of the shutdown across the country?
Phillip Elden: In most states, the effect has been devastating. For example, the estimated economic impact in the state of Utah is approximately $100 million.
Oceans 2003: How many people would have visited these national parks?
Phillip Elden: A collection of former park service workers have tabulated the statistics and say that about 700,000 visitors were expected each day.
Oceans 2003: That’s a significant number.
Phillip Elden: Even more worrisome is the amount of revenue lost.
Oceans 2003: Which is…?
Phillip Elden: Nearly $76 million per day.
Oceans 2003: Can you break down the lost revenue into a daily figure?
Phillip Elden: Some experts say it was an estimated $450,000 in revenue each day.
Oceans 2003: What are the sources of park revenues?
Phillip Elden: The majority stems from entrance fees as well as various in-park expenditures. Examples would include such items as boat rentals and campground fees.
Oceans 2003: Well, we certainly hope that Congress resolves their disagreements before another shutdown is necessary. We appreciate your thoughts, Phillip Elden. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you this morning.
Phillip Elden: I feel like it’s my responsibility – our responsibility – to take care of the environment, most notably our precious natural plants and wildlife. And you are welcome; the pleasure has been mine.
Phillip Elden is the leader of Native Oregon, which encourages environmental awareness for all Americans through a series of educational programs and outdoors activities.