by WorldTribune Staff, April 27, 2020
The Trump administration said it plans to open all national parks “as rapidly as possible.”
Operations at most of the 62 national parks have been at least partially closed since March 17 due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on April 26 cited President Donald Trump’s unveiling last week of the Opening Up America Again guidelines, which seek to assist state and local officials in “safely reopening their economies, getting people back to work and continuing to protect American lives.”
“In accordance with this guidance and in coordination with governors across the country, the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service are working to reopen the American people’s national parks as rapidly as possible,” Bernhardt said in a statement.
Some of America’s biggest annual attractions, including Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Yosemite National Park in California, were completely closed, according to a list on National Parks Traveler.
“Others have seen their visitors’ centers, park stores and campgrounds shut down while most of the grounds remained open for day visits,” Valerie Richardson reported for The Washington Times.
Interior spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said that 34 of the 62 parks remain “accessible to the public,” while 260 of the 419 NPS “units,” which include national monuments, have kept open some outdoor areas subject to federal and local social-distancing rules and recommendations.
Every park has made modifications in its operations to comply with Centers for Disease Control guidelines, Goodwin added.
“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers and partners continues to be paramount,” Bernhardt said. “Across the 500 million acres of public lands stewarded by the Department of the Interior, an overwhelming majority of these lands have remained safely accessible to the American public.”
At least one site, Virgin Islands National Park in St. John, reopened its beaches, trails and parking areas on April 20 after closing those areas on April 6.
Bernhardt noted that last week was National Park Week, which the agency marked with virtual tours and other online activities.
“President Trump recognizes the magnificence and grandeur of our National Park System and our ability to restore access to these lands in a safe manner,” Bernhardt said. “As National Park Week draws to an end, it is time the American people once again enjoy the incredible benefits of the great outdoors at our national parks, and we will be making that happen while working with our nation’s governors!”
Meanwhile, in a rare move by a Democratic governor, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the state would gradually begin to reopen on April 27.
Polis took an enormous amount of heat from other Colorado Democrats and the corporate media after he announced last week that Colorado would lift its “stay-at-home” order and move to a “safer-at-home” strategy, which includes allowing elective surgeries and the reopening of medical and dental offices, curbside non-essential retail pick-up, and in-person real-estate showings.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat, said he would retain the city’s stay-at-home order through May 8, as will some of other more populous Front Range communities, including Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder and Jefferson counties.
After CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Polis whether his decision “could theoretically cost your constituents their lives,” the governor said that “the stay-at-home order was for nothing” if it cannot be replaced with more sustainable practices.
“We always wish, Jake, that I had next week’s information and next month’s information available to me today,” Polis said. “That’s not the world we live in. We have to make the best-informed decisions based on data and science with the information we have.”