Here in the United States, there is a viable worry that the national legislature won’t approve spending for the government in time to prevent a shutdown of national government services. While law enforcement services will continue uninterrupted, our access to federal public lands will suffer and, potentially, so will the parks.
The U.S. federal government financially provides for the National Parks, Bureau of Land Management lands, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges and similarly designated public properties. These properties include recreational areas and wilderness, such as mountain ranges, treasures in natural beauty, like Arches National Park, and historic landmarks, like American battlefields and homes of great Americans.
While government affairs professionals are optimistic that the legislature will reach a deal, the threat of closing these public lands off from the taxpayer are very real. The last time the U.S. federal government shutdown was in 1995, which shutdown only portions of the government.
Is it possible that some services, like public land access, might be maintained while others are shutdown? Yes, but access to public land is likely to fall victim to the closures. It is more likely that the legislature might fund portions of agencies, or only certain agencies, to maintain what might be considered essential services. For instance, the Forest Service is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It the department itself is not funded, the National Forests will remain closed.
It is possible that the public lands themselves could suffer during this time. I am less concerned about the natural order of things than the human element. I believe the parks would be fine if we left them alone, for the most part. I’m worried about trespassers that don’t respect the land. Fortunately, according to the Access Fund, the “essential” law enforcement funds will be allocated to protect the public lands.