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Grand Canyon, other parks to resume full operations as shutdown ends

MINNEAPOLIS — Park rangers were once again greeting visitors at some national parks across the United States and flight operations at major airports were returning to normal on Saturday, one day after a partial government shutdown came to an end.

While there were signs that some government machinery was grinding back to life after a record 35 days without funding, many federal workers and their families approached the end of the shutdown cautiously, saying they were relieved they would receive paychecks again, but would continue to restrict their spending amid fears that another shutdown could happen in weeks.

“You can only be so happy because you just have to know that it could happen again,” said Rachel Malcom, whose husband serves in the Coast Guard in Rhode Island. “We’re going to be playing catch up, so I don’t want to overspend.”

President Donald Trump signed a short-term deal Friday to end the partial government shutdown, which caused 800,000 federal employees to miss two paychecks. The administration asked department heads to reopen offices in a “prompt and orderly manner.”

Many government agencies still had notices on their websites Saturday saying they were not fully operating due to the lack of appropriations. Calls to several agencies also went unanswered, with voicemails saying the offices were closed due to the shutdown. But many parks — from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Minnesota — were glad to open their doors to weekend visitors.

The National Park Service said it was working on reopening all of its parks as quickly as possible, but some parks may not open immediately depending on their staff size and complexity. The Virgin Islands National Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Wright Brothers National Memorial and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were among the parks that reopened Saturday.

Mike Litterst, chief spokesman for the National Park Service, said the nation’s more than 400 parks are reopening on a rolling schedule. Some of the parks that were partially open and accessible during the shutdown are expected to get back to full operations more quickly.

“We’re certainly grateful that all of our dedicated rangers and park service staff are back at work,” Litterst said.

Some parts of the government were taking a little more time to open up.

The Smithsonian museums and National Zoo in Washington planned to reopen to the public on Tuesday. Spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said until then, employees will check all audio-visual and interactive exhibits to make sure everything is working properly and curators will make a final check of the exhibits. Cafeterias will also be restocked and food shipments will resume, but full food service might not be immediately available.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park remained open with limited services during the partial government shutdown and the shutdown’s end has park officials gearing up to resume regular operations.

Officials said Saturday that visitor centers and permit offices will reopen and collection of fees will resume in the coming week, though all services such as ranger programs won’t be available immediately.

The park remained open with limited services available under funding donated by the state of Arizona and Grand Canyon Conservancy. Visitor services provided by park concessioners and nongovernment partners also remained open.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park officials say visitor centers will reopen by Sunday afternoon as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history ends.

Park officials said in a statement Saturday that entrance fees also will be charged starting Sunday.

Officials said the majority of staff will return on Monday and begin work on a backlog of permit requests including those seeking to do research inside the park. Park officials also expect to resume issuing permits for snowmobile access.

Visitors are asked to be patient as park staff clear snow and perform other safety checks.

Some services including trash collection, bathroom cleaning and snow removal at overlooks along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone continued during the shutdown.

Fees paid by previous park visitors for entry, camping and parking paid for that work.

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