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Local businesses keep Yellowstone National Park up and running during shutdown

Posted at 2:30 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 16:19:39-05

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – The partial government shutdown means that most workers in Yellowstone National Park were not on the job for 20 days during the holiday season.

But local businesses in West Yellowstone have stepped up to make sure most park visitors do not notice a difference.

There are plenty of people visiting the park and it’s all because tour operators and volunteers are pitching in. In fact, dozens of snowmobile and snow coach tour groups traveled through the park last week.

“We’re getting along just fine,” said West Yellowstone business owner Clyde Seely. “Each of our guides, whether they’re on snowmobiles or on snow coaches, are basically like a ranger. They step up to the plate.”

Popular stops and heated restrooms are open, and the roads are groomed for snowmobiles and snow coaches.

“The operators are providing toilet paper, cleaning supplies for the guides to bring in when they’re here,” said Yellowstone Tour Guide Brenda Holland.

The only giveaway that the park is not operating normally for the winter season is the lack of staff at the entry gates. Although it is costing the businesses thousands of dollars a week to keep the services going, doing so is important for them and their employees.

“I would totally have been out of a job. I think this is my fourth government shutdown that I’ve been working, living here, and this is the first one that I’ve been able to continue to work during the shutdown,” Holland said.

Seely added he and his guides “realize that it’s a privilege for us to be able to take people into the park. We realize that the people appreciate that opportunity.”

Some park employees began returning to work Saturday, while others returned Sunday to provide health and safety services. Park entry fees are not being collected during the shutdown.