National Parks Closed While House Votes To Sell Off 3.3 Million Acres of Public Land

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

While 401 national parks across the U.S. are closed during the government shutdown, the House Natural Resources Committee is still meeting Thursday to vote on a bill that would force the fire sale of 3.3 million acres of public land.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) mandates selling off public land in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming to the highest bidder, ThinkProgress reported. The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2013 (HR 2657) is supposed to provide funs to reduce the deficit.

Chaffetz’s home state of Utah loses $4.4 million every day because its five national parks are under government closure.

Zion National Park expects to turn away 10,000 visitors per day during the shutdown, costing $50,000 in revenue every day, according to the Deseret News.

“I’m a Republican and I am not happy with what they are doing,” said a Zion visitor earlier this week. “I’m of the opinion that the far right of the Republican Party has taken this too far. The Obamacare thing is something they voted for ... it is what is. Live by it.”

With no end in sight, hundreds of tourists are unsure of whether their plans to visit Canyonlands and Arches National Parks must be canceled.

The parks, however, are still open to oil and gas drilling. According to a 2011 contingency plan, federal land management agencies are required to leave the parks open to oil, gas and mining operations.

According to ThinkProgress, drilling is currently taking place in 12 national parks, and during the shutdown “access to personal and commercial inholdings and leased facilities is permitted.”

Sources: ThinkProgress, Deseret News