WASHINGTON — The Interior Department will dip into user fees to pay for staffing national parks during the government shutdown.
That's according to House Democrats who were notified Sunday of the department's plan to use Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement money.
Parks have largely remained open during the partial shutdown but are relying on outside help for security and upkeep.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana warned Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Saturday of "significant risk to property and public health" without funding. Three Utah Republican congressmen also asked Bernhardt to restart regular operations.
Democrats want the parks fully opened. But the incoming chair of the subcommittee overseeing Interior appropriations, Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum, said that dipping into user fees is "not acceptable" in this situation, and likely violates the law.