Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today released the following statement on reports that National Park Service officials have blocked urgent requests from the acting superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park and from tribes around Northern Arizona to close the park until further notice. Grijalva called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on March 20 to “prioritize the health and safety of visitors to national parks and public lands during this crisis” – a step the Interior Department and its agencies have failed to take in recent days as overcrowding continues to plague the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and other popular locations.
“We all love and value Grand Canyon National Park, and I understand public desire to enjoy the outdoors during a stressful time for our country. But public safety demands that the National Park Service prevent large gatherings anywhere in the park, regardless of this administration’s desire to maintain a sense of normalcy. The Centers for Disease Control and the president’s coronavirus task force recommend no gatherings larger than ten people, and with hundreds still crowding at popular national park sites, it’s time for a more serious federal response. Grand Canyon National Park is a federal facility and federal guidelines need to be enforced, whether it makes some government officials uncomfortable or not.”
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