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Thousands of park rangers to be furloughed if US government shuts down

Entrances to national parks will be blocked and thousands of park rangers will be furloughed if Congress doesn’t reach a budget agreement this weekend, the Department of Interior said Friday.

The stance is a reversal from five years ago when the Trump administration kept some iconic parks open in a move that has been lambasted as illegal by the Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog.

This time around, the majority of more than 420 national park units will be off-limits to the public, Interior officials said. The governors of Arizona and Utah vowed to keep some of the most iconic parks open with state funding, including Grand Canyon and Zion.

This year, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis directed the state’s Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan to operate and protect resources at Rocky Mountain National Park and three others.

In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem was reviewing a shutdown’s possible impact on national parks, including Mount Rushmore.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office didn’t say if the state would spend money to keep Glacier or Yellowstone national parks open. Most of Yellowstone is in Wyoming but three of the five entrances are in Montana.

Wyoming’s Republican Gov. Mark Gordon is awaiting more information from Interior and the White House to better understand the state’s options, spokesman Michael Pearlman said.

In Washington state, home to Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks, Gov. Jay Inslee has no plans to provide more funding or staff to national parks if there’s a shutdown. California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said it won’t pay to keep national parks open.

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