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OpinionEditorial

Why Trump administration suddenly appreciates our national parks

Sagamore Hill, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Sagamore Hill, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt. Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan

Thank goodness the Trump administration is working hard to keep parts of our national parks and monuments open even without staff in the event of a federal government shutdown this weekend.

It’s good to know that President Donald Trump and his aides understand the love Americans feel for these sites. It’s heartwarming to see them responding to the affection people have this time of year for warm-weather spots like the Everglades, winter fun in Yosemite, and pilgrimages to Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and the Statue of Liberty.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump and company felt the love 365 days a year?

Earlier this week, 10 of the 12 members of the board that advises the National Park Service quit — frustrated that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees national parks, would not meet with them and did not call a single meeting last year. Last month, Trump signed a proclamation based on a Zinke recommendation to dramatically shrink two national monuments in Utah. Trump and Zinke love federally protected lands so much they want to open them to mining and drilling.

What’s really going on is that Republicans want to avoid the debacle of October 2013, when the last shutdown closed parks nationwide. That led to searing images of angry veterans in wheelchairs pushing through barricades at the World War II Memorial in Washington. The Statue of Liberty didn’t reopen until Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made a deal to have the state pay the $61,600 a day needed to have federal workers there. The GOP, which controlled Congress then and now, took most of the blame. The party didn’t love it then and wouldn’t now.

The clock runs out Friday at midnight. Perhaps love for our national parks will inspire budget negotiators to keep the entire government open, too. — The editorial board

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