Changes coming to the National Parks
Neal Augenstein, WTOP reporter
Neal Augenstein, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - The National Park Service is considering closing restroom and visitor facilities earlier and eliminating late-night ranger hours at monuments and memorials on the National Mall, WTOP has learned.
Currently, ranger stations and nearby restrooms are open until almost 11:30 p.m. or midnight.
The National Park Service is contemplating closing those facilities at 10 p.m.
"There are discussions. We're looking at ways to maximize our staffing," says Carol Johnson, spokesperson for the Park Service.
She says no decisions have been made.
The discussed cuts are not related to sequestration, Johnson says.
"They've been in the works for quite a while."
Locals and visitors have long-enjoyed nighttime visits to the monuments, when crowds and noise have disappeared, and spotlights illuminate the nation's icons.
Johnson says the monuments themselves will stay open.
"We're looking at things like shortening hours of visitor contact with rangers, but we have a real decrease in visitor-ship after 10 p.m.," Johnson says.
It is unclear whether restrooms and elevators could remain in operation during hours rangers aren't on duty, she says.
"Right now they've been locked when the rangers leave, and of course, people have to be available to clean them," Johnson says.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, in a statement to WTOP, says the Park Service will be before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Tuesday morning.
"I intend to ask them about this reduction in services, particularly if they are not due to the sequester," Norton says in the statement.
"If such a reduction was ever necessary, surely it would not be in the summer months when people come to this tourist town," Norton says.
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