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Another Casualty of Federal Shutdown: Yellowstone Association

More sad news to pass along regarding the ripple effects of the federal government shutdown: the nonprofit Yellowstone Association is furloughing employees and scaling back on its planned contribution to Yellowstone operations.

The Yellowstone Association is an important player in the greater Yellowstone National Park economy: through sales at the bookstores in Yellowstone as well as stores in Gardiner and at the Bozeman airport, the association was able to donate $762,550 toward Park operations in fiscal year 2012, a record. The shutdown has already cost the Yellowstone Association some $62,000 in lost sales, with more to come: besides the loss of products in the Park, the association is also losing revenue due to the lack of access to the Park for guided tours.

A letter from Executive Director Jeff Brown laid out the extent of the damage:

Dear Yellowstone Association Supporter,

I know that you care deeply about Yellowstone National Park, so I am writing to provide an update on how the federal shutdown is affecting the park and the Yellowstone Association.

At this time, the gates are closed and there is no public access to the park. This has resulted in the closure of our Yellowstone Association Park Stores at Mammoth, Canyon, and Old Faithful. It has also resulted in the cancellation of Institute programs inside the park.

The Yellowstone Association headquarters in Gardiner remains open and we are doing everything we can to support our partners at the National Park Service during this difficult time. The employees and volunteers at our Gardiner and Bozeman airport information desks are greeting disappointed visitors and helping them make alternate plans. Our Institute instructors continue to conduct educational programs at our Yellowstone Overlook Field Campus, which is located outside of the park. The employees in our contact center are answering phones and sharing the latest information with members and the general public.

The impacts of the shutdown on the Yellowstone Association are considerable. Already, the closure of Park Stores and cancellation of Institute programs inside the park have resulted in lost revenues of approximately $62,000. To reduce the financial impact on our organization, we have made the difficult decision to furlough employees who are unable to work at their stations inside the park. If the shutdown continues, our losses will continue to mount and we will not be able to give the park as much financial support as we had hoped to provide.

I sincerely hope that this situation is resolved soon so that visitors can enjoy the splendor of autumn in Yellowstone, dedicated park employees can go back to work, and the Yellowstone Association can continue providing educational services inside the park. In the meantime, you can continue support our educational mission by increasing your membership, purchasing educational products, and signing up for winter programs on our website at YellowstoneAssociation.org.

No matter what your political leanings, hearing news like this — collateral damage from the U.S. government shutdown — should make you realize there are real-world consequences to political posturing. Alas, neither side has the incentive to break down and reach a deal any time soon, it appears.

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