President Donald Trump has made it clear that he is just as anxious as most Americans to get the country fully reopened following the coronavirus-related shutdowns — and he sent another such signal on Wednesday.
During a tree-planting ceremony at the White House to celebrate Earth Day and National Park Week, Trump announced that the federal government is working to reopen all national parks and public land in the near future, Reuters reported.
The Trump administration reportedly resisted shutting down national parks early on in the pandemic, but eventually joined with the states in closing much of that land to the public due to crowding in certain places that violated social-distancing guidelines.
Some states have unveiled plans to ease restrictions on parks and public lands, provided that people follow the guidelines that remain in place. Now, the federal government is poised to do the same.
“Starting to open our country again”
During the tree-planting ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, President Trump said: “On this special occasion, we are renewing our strong national commitment on conserving the wonder of God’s creation. One of the most important ways we uphold this tradition is by protecting our priceless national parks and our public lands.
“To support our all-out war against the virus, many of the places that we have here were temporarily closing,” he continued, according to a transcript provided by the White House. “But we will have them open quickly. As we said, we’re starting to open our country again.”
Characterizing the virus as an “invisible enemy,” Trump added: “I am pleased to announce that, in line with my administration’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, we will begin to reopen our national parks and public lands for the American people to enjoy.”
David Bernhardt, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, noted later that the “roll out” of reopened national parks, related federal facilities, and public lands would coincide with the determinations made by governors at the state level.
President @realDonaldTrump, @VP and I are committed to working with governors and local public health officials to gradually reopen our National Parks in a safe manner for the American people to once again enjoy. #NationalParkWeek pic.twitter.com/MaUObBJtRK
— Secretary David Bernhardt (@SecBernhardt) April 22, 2020
“More details will be provided”
Reuters reported that questions posed to the White House for further details on the plan were referred to the Interior Department. “More details will be provided in the coming days on plans for the reopening of specific parks following guidance from OMB [the White House Office of Management and Budget] and the president’s plan for Opening Up America Again,” the agency explained.
It remains to be seen just how soon the national parks and public lands will be reopened, but it is clear that many Americans are champing at the bit for the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the splendor of our nation’s parks and open lands.
Hopefully, the various governors will work cooperatively with the administration to ensure those parks and lands are reopened — even if only partially and in line with social-distancing guidelines — in the very near future.