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MEDIA CONTACT: Emily Thompson;; 202-758-3936

DOI Should Not Encourage Additional Park Visitation

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has waived entrance fees at national parks across the country to encourage visitation and “make it easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors in our incredible national parks.” However, this decision also puts National Park Service (NPS) employees and the visiting public at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“We understand the reasons behind this decision,” says Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “Our national parks are spaces that often provide an escape from everyday life. They can be places of peace and sanctuary. And under normal circumstances, we would certainly support sending more Americans to visit our national parks.

But these are not normal circumstances. We should not be encouraging more visitation to our national parks. It is irresponsible to urge people to visit national park sites when gathering at other public spaces is no longer considered safe.

We are concerned that the Secretary’s decision to waive entrance fees will lead to overcrowding and a greater risk to the health and well-being of our NPS employees and visitors.

There is great benefit to getting outdoors. But we must put the health and safety of NPS employees and visitors first.”