National parks might not be fully operational during the government shutdown, but that isn’t stopping people from visiting them and injuring themselves while doing so. On Christmas Day, a man died after he fell into a river in Yosemite National Park, just three days into the government shutdown. Andrew Muñoz, supervisory public affairs officer for the National Park Service, told Outside that the park’s emergency center received a 911 call about a male visitor with a head injury above Nevada Fall. “Medical attention was provided to the visitor,” he said, “but he died from his injuries.” He added that even though the incident occurred two weeks ago, it’s still “under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown. A news release wasn’t issued because of the shutdown.”
During the shutdown, only about 50 employees remain in Yosemite compared to the over 800 that usually staff the park. Since the park is still open during the shutdown, however, thousands of visitors are still pouring in, and there isn’t enough staff to maintain the park, clean up after guests, and keep people safe.
This is the first time national parks have remained open despite a government shutdown, and a reduction in staff by nearly 80 percent. This allows parks to continue collecting entry fees, generating revenue for the local community, but there are doubtless safety risks that come with keeping the parks open.