Viewpoint: Government shutdown of national parks is an outrage

Who cares if we can’t get into the IRS building? We want to be able to get into our national parks! With the federal government shutting down yesterday and all national parks closing their borders with road signs and barricades, it leaves us at The Signpost with no choice.

We must sneak into a national park.

We have it all planned out. The weekend is fast approaching, and with the government’s attitude the way it is, it’s unlikely the parks will be open by then. Apparently, all current park visitors have approximately 48 hours from the shutdown to vacate the park. So, of course, we have to wait until they’re all gone to make the sneaking-in victory all the sweeter. And while it wouldn’t be wise to tell you exactly which park we’re targeting, we will tell you one motivation behind our choice is to save bushels of some of Utah’s best fruit from rotting on the ground.

All of us on staff appreciate the natural beauty and awe of the country’s landscape, especially those in Utah. Why can’t we continue to do so during the shutdown? Shut down the government, sure, but don’t shut us out of our own backyards, especially here in Utah, where we are surrounded by nature’s extreme sense of beauty and landscaping.

Shutting down McDonald’s is a better idea than shutting down national parks. The national park closures don’t only affect the livelihood of government employees. With an average of 715,00 visitors a day, national parks across the country and the small local businesses that depend and thrive on visitors are going to feel the negative effects of the shutdown. They might as well have been furloughed. It’s already tough enough for many to have a small, local business.

Tourists from around the globe who have traveled to America to enjoy the view now have to cancel reservations and spend their money elsewhere. Losing money, especially from rich European or Asian tourists, was never a part of Congress’ shutdown plan.

These monuments and pieces of land belong to the American taxpayer. It’s our right to be able to visit them. Some would say that’s why they fight for our country, so we can have the freedom to have national parks and visit them as we please.

Not only are the national parks themselves closed down, but so are various national monuments, such as the World War II memorial. Of course, that didn’t stop four busloads of elderly veterans who came on a rare, unique visit many had planned for decades to tour the monuments. They broke past security to tour the monument for themselves, and you know what? Security pretty much let them, and lawmakers on hand even helped the veterans get in. Who’s going to tell these men who fought for our country and lost friends and family as a result that they can’t enter a monument meant for them to be honored and to mourn? No one, and that’s the way it should be.

While we on staff certainly haven’t died or lost friends in battle for our rights to enter our national parks, we’ve paid our taxes, worked our jobs and voted in our elections. We’ve done our part to enjoy our benefits and rights.

National parks, here we come.

If or when the government ever decides to play nice with each other, we encourage everyone to make a trip to our local national parks and monuments. Not only are they a great learning experience, but a bit of fresh air and leg-stretching can benefit almost anyone. We recommend visiting for information on all five of Utah’s national parks and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.