Government Shutdown Closes Local Parks

Paramount Ranch

Nine national parks areas in the Santa Monica Mountains closed Tuesday morning after the federal government shutdown, freezing all spending on services deemed nonessential. Additionally, 83 National Park Service (NPS) workers have been furloughed. Officials say firefighting response protocols will not be affected by the shutdown.

The Santa Monica Mountains comprise several park areas operated by either the NPS or California State Parks. The areas operated by the NPS are closed to the public, but those operated by the state parks system will remain open.

The closed parklands include: Solstice Canyon, Zuma/Trancas Canyons, Circle X Ranch and Arroyo Sequit, Paramount Ranch. Rancho Sierra Vista, Cheeseboro Canyon, Rocky Oaks and Peter Strauss Ranch. 

Due to the closures, public access will be restricted, gates will be locked at trailheads and signs will be posted. Bathrooms and all federally operated visitors facilities will be closed, including the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch, according to NPS spokesperson Kate Kuykendall.

In addition to the closures, 83 National Park Service workers have been furloughed. Twelve employees remain at work as “excepted personnel,” Kuykendall said.

Those workers include law enforcement rangers, firefighters, a wastewater specialist and Kuykendall.

“We’re here to protect public safety and federal property,” Kuykendall said. “Part of why we want adequate law enforcement staffing is because our job is to protect and preserve these resources, so we want to make sure that there’s no, for example, vandalizing of parks property or game poaching or any illegal activities on National Park Service land.”

Maria Grycan, community services liaison at the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said the shutdown would not have an effect on emergency response should a fire take place on nearby federal parkland.

“The change [NPS is] going through as far as their normal routine is in their normal day-to-day,” Grycan said. “If something were to happen, the parks will respond, and we will respond like we always do. So it’s not going to have any effect.”

Kuykendall said it is unclear whether the excepted workers and the furloughed workers would receive any back pay when the shutdown ends. She said that after the shutdown in 1995, Congress did authorize pay, but that “it is not a guarantee.”

Areas operated by the California State Parks should remain largely unaffected, according to Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap, because the state parks system already has federal funds in hand.

“We have received several calls today from groups that want to shift their special events to our properties since they have had their events cancelled on NPS property,” Sap said in an email Tuesday. “We may see a small increase in visitation on our property, but it is too early to tell.”

The NPS properties in the Santa Monica Mountains closed with all other NPS parks Tuesday as a result of the government shutdown that went into effect when members of Congress failed to pass a federal spending bill. Other agencies closed or partially closed by the shutdown include the Department of Education, the USDA, NASA, and national museums and monuments.

The City of Malibu would not face any disruption or loss of funding due to the federal shutdown, city spokesperson Sandi Turner said Tuesday.

Calls to the Santa Monica-Malibu School District headquarters and Malibu High School went unreturned Tuesday. It is not believed the shutdown will affect education funding.