"We all need to familiarize ourselves with our local and public lands and be good stewards", says Lauretig, "whether that's being more respectful of our wild spaces, or educating one another to watch over those one-of-a-kind historical aspects of our parks that remain unprotected".
National parks like Yosemite could soon get relief from trash and human waste that has built up after workers were placed on furlough following a partial government shutdown. And some visitors have died in parks since the shutdown began.
Although hikers and skiers are still allowed inside Mount Rainier National Park, officials reminded visitors there is no public parking outside the Nisqually entrance and cars parked on private property or blocking the gates will be towed.
"Relaxing those internal controls, as the Park Service appears to be doing, is a positive step toward better addressing the agency's most pressing maintenance and operational challenges", Regan said. The agency, however, said it will still not be able to fully open parks and that many will remain closed.
A Park Service official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid, said that the Interior Department's solicitor had authorized the move in an opinion, but did not provide the document.
Bishop, now the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, cheered the department's decision to keep the parks operating.
The statement noted that the visitor fee money "would typically be used for future projects at parks", but the lapse in appropriations for the Park Service meant the funds "can and should be used to provide immediate assistance and services to highly visited parks".More news: Astronomers Detect Mysterious Radio Signals From Deep Space
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"We aren't releasing more detail because the incident remains under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown", Munoz said.
Parks supporters called the administration's move misguided.
"It's incredibly concerning that the Acting Interior Secretary is putting political pressure on superintendents to keep parks open at the expense of parks' long-term needs and protection", Pierno said.
With park services lacking funding to keep parks clean, Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter Erica have spent their days hiking the mountain trails with trash bags in hand so they can pick up litter along the way.
She said it was especially concerning given the fact that many of these parks have already lost a significant amount of park fee money - sometimes in the millions of dollars - by not collecting fees over the holiday season, when many of them have increased visitors. Howenweep National Monument lists $255,000 in backlogged repairs, and Yucca House National Monument lists $125,000.
There are no areas being maintained for public snow play inside the park.
The news of the National Park Service's decision brought some relief to his wife.