Grand Canyon Officials Meet with Local Community About Shutdown Effects

Jan 10, 2019

Grand Canyon National Park officials held a community meeting Wednesday about the federal government shutdown. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, employees and residents voiced a variety concerns. 

A sign in front of the South Rim Visitor's Center explains staffing shortages and other changes at the park during the shutdown.
Credit Ryan Heinsius

Park officials briefed the crowd on the how the shutdown is affecting employee benefits, rent for government housing, and other issues. Federal workers are now set to miss their next paycheck as the shutdown nears its fourth week. According to the officials, however, they’re guaranteed to eventually be paid.

Visitors at Mather Point on the South Rim Tue, Jan. 8.
Credit Ryan Heinsius

One concern brought up by a community member is whether the park is currently able to fully protect natural and archeological resources, and follow federal laws like the Endangered Species Act.

"The short answer is we’re not. We do not have appropriated money from the federal government to accomplish those tasks. The hard, cold truth is that many, many very important, very critical things are not being done," Grand Canyon Chief Ranger Matthew Vandzura told attendees of the meeting.

In addition, federal officials will soon end their agreement with the state of Arizona to fund basic services at the park. Officials will begin using saved money collected at entrance stations earmarked for future Grand Canyon maintenance projects. The state is currently paying $65,000 a week for trash collection and other basic functions.