WASHINGTON, DC —Moments ago, at a tree-planting ceremony on the White House Lawn, President Trump remarked that he would begin to reopen national parks to the public.

Phil Francis, Chairman of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (CPANP), issued the following in response:

“We understand that the president is eager to reopen our national parks and we share that sentiment. However, parks should not open before the safety of National Park Service employees, concessionaires, volunteers, and other partners, including those in gateway communities, can be ensured. And not before we have the necessary capacity to protect our resources. This includes adequate staff, personal protective equipment, and employee training. There must be system-wide and individual park plans in place, made available to the public, that can be executed prior to reopening.”

The Coalition has called on the Department of Interior to shut down America’s National Parks since the COVID-19 pandemic began.