Red Rock, Lake Mead resume normal operations after shutdown

What was down has come back up.

With their federal funding restored, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Lake Mead National Recreation Area resumed normal operations Tuesday morning.

Bureau of Land Management spokesman John Asselin said the visitor center at Red Rock and the visitor contact station at Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area reopened at 8 a.m. after the three-day government shutdown.

“Both visitor centers were closed yesterday, as well as some restrooms and the Southern Nevada district office,” Asselin said in an email.

National Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover said Lake Mead also was back up and running Tuesday morning.

“All park facilities are open,” Vanover said. “We’d like to thank our business partners that stepped up to offer support over the last few days.”

Entrance fees were not collected at Lake Mead on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Red Rock Canyon stopped collecting fees at the entrance to the 13-mile Scenic Drive at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The roads at both parks were kept open throughout the lapse in federal funding.

During the previous government shutdown, which dragged on for 16 days in October 2013, the Red Rock scenic loop and all 1.5 million acres of Lake Mead National Recreation Area were completely closed to the public. Law enforcement rangers issued citations to five people at Red Rock and 12 people at Lake Mead for ignoring the closure order.

This time around, no one was ticketed by the Park Service or the BLM for violations related to the shutdown.

BLM officials did not have an estimate for how many people came through gates at Red Rock on Sunday and Monday, but Asselin said the conservation area may have missed out on approximately $19,000 in entrance fee revenue over the two days, based on the amount collected on those dates in the past.

A total of 114 people were furloughed from BLM’s Southern Nevada District Office as a result of the shutdown. When workers returned on Tuesday they found overflowing trash cans but no obvious signs of vandalism at Red Rock or elsewhere, Asselin said.

A barrier blocking the entrance to the boardwalk at Red Spring was torn down, but Asselin said visitors have broken through the wooden barrier “almost every day since it was put up last year” to keep people off the boardwalk until repairs can be made.

“It is not a result of the shutdown,” he said.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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