The government shutdown may be dragging on in Washington, D.C., leaving garbage cans overflowing in the nation’s capital, but at national parks in the west, private companies with an interest in conservation are stepping in where the government can’t tread (at least for the time being).
NPR reports that private corporations are doing the jobs the government won’t do, clearing trails, policing trash, and providing general upkeep for major national parks west of the Mississippi, including Yellowstone National Park.
“Jerry Johnson owns a business that rents snowmobiles and sends seven guided tours a day into Yellowstone in the winter. He calls it ‘the trip of a lifetime.’ When the shutdown began, he received a big spike in phone calls from people who had already booked trips, and he didn’t want to tell them their Yellowstone adventure was canceled because politicians in Washington D.C. couldn’t resolve their differences,” NPR says.
As a result, Johnson and a handful of other local small business owners are chipping in to keep trails groomed and keep the park’s main road open to tourists, who are now getting into the park for free — since rangers aren’t stationed at the park’s entrance to collect the typical $35-per-car fee tourists typically pay.
Overall, the project costs around $7,500 per day, but split between local tour guide companies, snowmobile rental places, and souvenir shops, the cost comes to around $300 per day, and the locals are happy to donate if it means Yellowstone will remain open to people who travel from far and wide to see the park’s natural majesty.
The companies are even pitching in to help clean bathrooms.
The group says they’ll keep working through the shutdown, unless the shutdown lasts beyond February. At that point, they may take a step back to “regroup” and decide how best to dig in for the long haul.
But if Yellowstone’s local residents are acting like adults, it’s a stark contrast to Democrats in Washington, D.C., who have done little with their first week in power aside from taunt President Donald Trump with untenable funding packages that provide no more than the $1.6 billion already promised for a wall along the United States’ southern border (in one case, newly-minted Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) offered a dollar to build the wall, which she then labeled “immoral”).
Late last week, President Donald Trump made it clear he is not backing down over Democratic threats, and that he will keep the government in partial shutdown for as long as necessary — indefinitely — to achieve his border security goals. On Friday, the President also suggested that he may shut down the border completely if Democrats continue to resist passing a funding package for the Department of Homeland Security.
Sunday morning, the President took to social media to sell his shutdown plan once again, encouraging Americans to revolt against Democrats who refuse to come to the bargaining table.