The federal Shutdown is into its third week and the loss of three lives in National Parks in the USA during this period is a matter of concern. Shutdown means a smaller workforce to maintain vigil, and the parks may have been better kept out of bounds for visitors. That was the practice followed by the National Park Service in the past but, in this case, officials of Donald Trump administration decided to keep them open. The parks are huge, scenic, and deadly and over-enthusiastic visitors need monitoring by experienced personnel of the parks to prevent untoward incidents.

New Zealand Herald reports one of the deaths was of a 14-year-old girl. She fell from the Horseshoe Bend Overlook in Arizona. The next was a man at Yosemite National Park in California who sustained a head injury and the third was of a woman who died when a tree fell on her.

Accidents in national parks do happen

An official of the National Park Service confirms that “an average of six people die each week in the park system.” Recently, two tourists fell off a popular cliff edge and died in the Yosemite National Park. Usually, death in parks come from drowning, falling, or are related to travel apart from medical related incidents like heart attacks. He goes on to add that the parks offer a wide variety of experiences and visitors must go in for activities that are commensurate with their abilities.

That will reduce the possibility of accidents.

There were federal shutdowns in the past in 1995 and 2013 during the tenure of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama respectively when the administrations decided to keep the parks closed because if kept open, it would jeopardize public safety.

However, the situation has changed and in January 2018, the Trump administration decided to keep them open during a shutdown. At that time, it was of a short duration lasting for just three days, but the current one is into its third week.

NBC News has given details of the deaths. The first was of a 14-year-old girl on Christmas Eve.

She fell from a height and the authorities recovered her body only next morning. On Christmas Day, a man died after suffering injuries and falling into a river. The third instance was of a woman who died when a tree fell on her due to strong winds. Her 6-year-old son was with her and he broke his leg.

Absence of national park rangers create problems

According to NBC News, normally there are thousands of national park rangers in the parks but they are on furlough because of the shutdown, which is affecting various services. The Trump administration has decided to keep the parks open, and visitors keep coming. To some of them, the incentive is the entrance fee, which is free. However, the drastic reduction in the number of rangers available has affected the disposal of trash and maintaining cleanliness of the bathrooms and surroundings.

These are potential hazards to not only the people but also to the environment because of wildfires. This fear is very much present since Yosemite National Park had previously closed due to wildfire. In view of the shutdown, the administration should review its decision and declare the parks out-of-bounds to safeguard the lives of people.