Although more than a month has passed since the October government shutdown ended, officials at Yellowstone National Park are not resting easy. With two significant Congressional decisions looming in the early new year—government funding under the current continuing budget resolution ends on Jan. 15 and economists estimate that the American debt ceiling will need to be raised again on Feb. 7—it’s possible that the park could quickly find itself in the same position as it was this past fall.
“It’s ridiculous the way Congress is creating inefficiencies,” Joan Anzelmo, spokeswoman for the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and past senior public affairs specialist in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Washington, D.C., told the Yellowstone Gate. “The agencies try and plan in advance and know what they can budget. In a normal world, budgets are passed a year out. We haven’t had a budget for four years now, so it’s budget-by-crisis, with continuing resolutions and threats of shutdowns. It’s no way to run the federal government.”
If Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park were to close again, tourism within and in the gateway towns outside the parks would suffer mightily. Considerable loss was already seen during October’s 16-day shutdown.
During that time, park officials estimate that Yellowstone missed out on nearly $300,000 in revenue from entrance and permit fees and campsite rentals. The Yellowstone Association, official fundraising partner of the park, lost about $140,000 in gross revenue. Park concessionaires lost about $5.5 million.
A study by the National Parks Conservation Association found that the closure caused a loss of more than $12.3 million in tourism and recreation in and around Grand Teton National Park and an additional $8.8 million loss in and around Yellowstone. That loss is a large blow to small business owners to absorb 90 percent of tourism spending.