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Park Service will not use entrance fees to pay for shutdown operations

The Hill: “The National Park Service (NPS) will retroactively pull from congressionally appropriated funds to pay for the park maintenance and other operations the Trump administration authorized during the partial government shutdown, according to an internal NPS memo obtained by The Hill Wednesday. Dan Smith, NPS’s deputy director and its top official, told staff in an emailed memo that the agency will reverse its earlier, controversial decision to use park visitor entrance fees to pay for maintenance and staffing needs under the shutdown. Instead, he said the NPS will use money from the spending bill Congress approved to end the shutdown to pay for those costs. “We have confirmed with the [White House] Office of Management and Budget that the NPS can move obligations made during the appropriations lapse form the FLREA fee account and apply those obligations to the National Park Service annual operating account,” Smith said, making reference to “rec fees” collected under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA)…”

Smith’s announcement Wednesday came shortly after Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the Interior Department’s budget, asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to determine whether it was illegal to use park fees to pay for operations during the shutdown…”

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