In an internal email sent to National Park Service’s (NPS) employees, it stated that the parks lost around $10 million because of the government shutdown.
According to The Hill, the email states that the shutdown and its aftermath had a detrimental effect on the morale of park staff and that lawyers are looking into whether it was legal for the Department of Interior to use “rec fees” to pay for maintenance and trash collection while parks such as Joshua Tree in California were kept open.
“Our work has become increasingly stressful. For some, the shutdown was a much-needed relief, for others, the shutdown added a new dimension of stress, anxiety, anger,” NPS regional fee manager Cindy David wrote in the email on Friday.
The loss, which is believed to be between $10 million and $11 million, is mostly in visitor fee revenue during the shutdown, the majority of which came from losses in high-revenue parks in California and Hawaii that are popular in winter months.
In addition to Joshua Tree, these parks include Yosemite and Muir Woods in California and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
“Most of these costs were in our region because we have big winter visitation parks that remained accessible to visitors at the start of the shutdown,” David wrote.
“Your #1 priority is your health and wellness. That needs to be your foundational priority,” David wrote. “Don’t convince yourself that work comes first. You take care of yourself so that you can do your work well.”
In blunt terms, the guidance said staff would need to accept they couldn’t do everything after over a month of missed work.
“We cannot make up for 5+ weeks of work,” David wrote. Instead, she suggested staff would “shift priorities,” “delay tasks” and “cut corners where we can.”