The National Park Service’s official charity has started raising money from the public to bolster federal cleanup efforts once the partial government shutdown ends.
The money raised will be used only to address damage incurred during the shutdown, such as acts of vandalism, illegal camping that has damaged fire rings or tent pads, and damage to wildlife habitats, said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity.
“We’re hearing from people saying, ‘What can we do?’” Shafroth said. “And we thought, let’s raise some money now, identify people who want to volunteer, and maybe after the parks are open we can assess what damage has been done. This allows us to have a quick strike force to address the issue as soon as we can.”
The funding could also address specific incidents such as reported illegal off-road vehicle use in Joshua Tree National Park, Shafroth told Bloomberg Environment.
No dollar figures are available yet because the online fundraising effort only started on the evening of Jan. 10, Shafroth said.
But the response has been “positive and immediate,” he said. “We’re not getting giant contributions in the tens of thousands of dollars, but this is more grassroots. People are putting in a little bit here and there.”
Eventually the fundraising effort will expand to reach corporations, he said.
The Interior Department’s funding for the national parks lapsed as part of the shutdown, which is now into its third week.
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