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VERIFY: Would a government shutdown impact national parks like the National Mall?

The Verify team looked into the impacts of a possible shutdown on national parks like the National Mall.

WASHINGTON — Democrats and Republicans are currently stuck in a standstill, as a government shutdown looms around the corner. If Congress doesn't reach a deal on a spending plan by midnight, heading into Friday morning, the federal government will shut down. 

QUESTION: 

Would a shutdown impact national parks, such as the National Mall? 

SOURCES:

ANSWER: 

Yes. National parks would be impacted by a shutdown. In past years, staff has been sent home, leaving many parks without necessary maintenance. Sometimes parks have closed altogether. 

WHAT WE KNOW: 

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the impacts have varied through multiple shutdowns. 

"During the 2013 shutdown, the National park Service turned away millions of visitors to more than 400 parks, national monuments, and other sites," the CRFB wrote. 

According to the CRFB, the National Park Service estimated that the shutdown lead to the loss of more than $500 million due to 'lost visitor spending' nationwide. 

WUSA9 had cameras rolling in 2013 when protesters grew frustrated with barricades surrounding the World War II Memorial on October 13. Those protesters carried the barricades to the White House, to express their anger with the shutdown. 

In the lengthy 2018-2019 shutdown, the national park impacts were slightly different. Many parks remained open, although there were no visitor services, leading to major trash build-up. 

During the 2018-2019 shutdown, porta-potties were placed on the mall before staff began their furlough. However, these bathrooms were not cleaned, leading to some shocking scenes for some tourists. 

The Verify team reached out to NPS to get an idea of what this shutdown might look like, and were sent the following statement: 

“Consistent with guidance from OMB we are reviewing our contingency plan. Determinations about specific operations and programs have not been made.”