Park Service instructed to tap into entrance fees to keep running

In an unprecedented move, the National Park Service is dipping into entrance fees to pay for employee staffing at some of the most visited national parks in wake of the partial government shutdown. The Deputy Director of the park service announced on Sunday that the money will be used to pay staff to maintain restrooms, clean up trash and patrol the parks, saying that the Trump administration’s decision to keep parks open during the shutdown was no longer workable and extreme measures were necessary. Park supporters called the move misguided. Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota, the incoming chair of the subcommittee overseeing Interior appropriations, said that tapping user fees was unacceptable in this situation and likely violates the law.

 

Deer poacher sentenced to watch Bambi while in jail

David Berry, a poacher who illegally killed hundreds of deer in Missouri, has been sentenced to watch Bambi at least once a month during his year-long jail sentence. Berry was a part of one of the largest deer poaching cases in Missouri state history, killing trophy bucks at night for their heads, leaving their bodies to go to waste. In addition to his required monthly viewings of Bambi, he and his father, two brothers and another man, had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked. The men have also paid $51,000 in fines and court costs. The investigation into the men began in late 2015 when the Missouri department of conservation received an anonymous tip about deer poaching in Lawrence County.

 

Government shutdown could delay offshore drilling plans

The ongoing partial government shutdown, now in its second week, may delay Trump’s proposed offshore drilling plan. The U.S. Department of the Interior was expected to release its 2019 to 2024 offshore oil and gas drilling plan in early January but is operating at a reduced staffing level due to the shutdown. Other U.S. energy initiatives, like allowing higher levels of ethanol in gasoline during the summer months, may also be affected. Biofuel producers are worried that the shutdown could lead to delays in the EPA rule allowing summer sales of gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol. This week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management also warned that public meetings related to what will be the largest U.S. offshore wind farm will be rescheduled if the shutdown continues into next week.