As the partial federal shutdown continues, Garfield County’s Office of Tourism wants the public to know that Bryce Canyon National Park, one of Utah’s most visited sites, is still accessible to travelers, though services are limited. The State Tourism Office, the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association and Garfield County have provided funding and in-kind resources to keep the visitor’s center open and the park’s restrooms and public areas clean and trash-free.
While key parts of the federal government have been impacted since Dec. 22 by the shutdown, Bryce Canyon is one of the fortunate national parks to remain open. Some national parks are littered with garbage, have locked restrooms and blocked roads because of piling snow. Bryce Canyon has been able to avoid this dilemma. This is due to the support of partner organizations who have collaborated to keep major portions of the park accessible.
Gayle Pollack, director of the nonprofit, Bryce Canyon Natural History Association, has pledged $10,000 to underwrite any funding shortfall to keep Bryce Canyon open. The NHA is committed to supporting the visitor center operations for however long the federal shutdown lasts.
“Don’t cancel your plans if you scheduled a trip to Bryce Canyon from the United States or overseas,” said Gayle Pollack, director of the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association. “When you come here the restrooms will be clean, the park will be open and there will be people with smiles to welcome you.”
With no end in sight to the federal shutdown, Garfield County will provide local law enforcement personnel to maintain order and safety when needed.
“I don’t suspect the park’s closure will be years or months like you hear in the news, but we are in this for the long haul,” said Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins. “The sheriff’s department pledges support in the form of equipment to keep the roads free from snow and law enforcement officers to help with any safety or rescue issues in the park.”
If the shutdown continues, the county says it will work with the State of Utah and regional and county partners to identify the best solution to keep the park open.
Falyn Owens, the Garfield Tourism Office Executive Director, said she takes hope in Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s recent memo sent to the National Park Service. Bernhardt has requested in the memo that the NPS use funding from the parks’ recreational fees to pay for basic services — such as trash pickup, restroom cleaning and patrolling park areas — that have stopped due to the partial government shutdown.
“We want to make sure those that have planned to visit the area still get the opportunity to take in our incredible Bryce Canyon National Park,” said Owens. “Visitors should be mindful that some areas are short-staffed. It is important for visitors to try to minimize any impact to the park so we can all enjoy the natural beauty of Bryce Canyon.”
If you are planning to visit the area please note contingency plans that are being developed to keep the visitor’s center open and some services available.