The interior department’s contingency plan emphasizes the need to protect park resources and ensure visitor health and safety

National parks across the US will close to visitors as soon as Sunday if Congress is unable to avert a government shutdown, the Department of Interior has announced.

“Gates will be locked, visitor centers will be closed, and thousands of park rangers will be furloughed,” the interior department wrote in a news release on Friday. “Accordingly, the public will be encouraged not to visit sites during the period of lapse in appropriations out of consideration for protection of natural and cultural resources, as well as visitor safety.”

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