Muslim youths clean up national parks trashed during government shutdown

Shutdown spares federal park rangers at site in Trump hotel

Shutdown spares federal park rangers at site in Trump hotel

Bhatti told CNN that if the shutdown continues, they will be looking for other national parks to help clear and for more ways they can help community members affected by the shutdown.

"[The park] should be open, and services should be there, because it is the people's park", he added, saying that he was happy to help keep the park open until the park received funding once more.

"The NPS now has funds derived from entrance, camping, parking and other fees collected from park visitors that would typically be used for future projects at parks", Smith explained in a statement posted to the National Park Services website.

Unlike most previous government shutdowns, the Trump administration has gone to great lengths to keep parks open despite concerns from groups that it leaves national treasures vulnerable to vandalism and creates a risky environment for visitors.

Congressional Democrats and some park advocates question whether the park-fee move is legal, because the fees that parks collect under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act are expressly designated to support visitor services instead of operations and basic maintenance. The agency said previously that it would seek to keep parks "as accessible as possible" during the funding lapse. NPS Deputy Director Smith said the decision to fund park operations with visitor fees will provide more staffing at the parks that need it most. Parks were closed during the 2013 government shutdown.

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"Relaxing those internal controls, as the Park Service appears to be doing, is a positive step toward better addressing the agency's most pressing maintenance and operational challenges", Regan said.

"The Department of Interior is very likely violating appropriations law", Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who is incoming head of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing Interior, told the newspaper. Three Utah Republican congressmen also asked Bernhardt to restart regular operations.

"With the government shutdown entering its third week, the National Park Service is right to search for creative ways to get our nation's most popular parks back up and running", Regan said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

"It's incredibly concerning that the Acting Interior Secretary is putting political pressure on superintendents to keep parks open at the expense of parks' long-term needs and protection", Pierno said. "We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash".

Meanwhile, hundreds of Muslim men volunteering with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association have been picking up trash in parks and public spaces across the nation - from the Everglades in Florida to the National Mall in Washington DC.

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