Gate Closed at OR Dunes NRA
The White House has validated TPAC’s motto that… “All Trail Decisions are Political Decisions” by issuing a precedent setting order directing federal agencies to close all parks that are managed by private management firms including the Arizona-based Recreation Resource Management Company.
Historically, these user-pay/user-benefit privately managed federal units have stayed open during government shutdowns including the 3 week shutdown in 1995.
Included below is an October 2, 2013 letter to Congress written by Recreation Resource Management’s owner, Warren Meyer.
October 2, 2013
Senator John McCain
Senator Jeff Flake
Representative David Schweikert
Help! Administration Orders Shut Down of Privately-Operated Parks in National Forest
Parks that require no Federal money, and actually pay rent to the Treasury, are being required to close
My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas under concession contract. Yesterday, as in all past government shutdowns, the Department of Agriculture and US Forest Service confirmed we would stay open during the government shutdown. This makes total sense, since our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.
However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.
The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the US Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.
I urge you to help stop the Administration from lawlessly taking arbitrary and illegal actions to artificially worsen the shutdown by hurting innocent hikers and campers. I am not asking you to restore any funding, because no funding is required to keep these operations open. I am asking that the Administration be required to only close government services that actually require budget resources.
In additions, confusion continues to plague the public since the Antideficiency Act, passed by Congress in 1870, prohibits the government from incurring any monetary obligation for which the Congress has not appropriated funds. This precludes FS and BLM recreation staff from disseminating closure-related information to the public.
The Government Accountability Office states that employees who violate the Antideficiency Act may be subject to disciplinary action, suspension and even "fines, imprisonment, or both."
As hunters, off-roaders, fishermen, equestrians, and mountain-bikers prepare for this weekend’s adventure on federal lands, they can rest assured that closure signs await their arrival at many Forest Service, NPS, and BLM campgrounds, staging areas, and trailheads.