Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Sunday he has decided to keep many national parks open during the government shutdown because the tourist spots should not “be weaponized.”
“Our public lands and our monuments really belong to the people and not the government,” he said.
Zinke spoke with CNN on the National Mall in Washington as he shook hands with veterans and tourists outside the World War II and Lincoln memorials.
The scene on the Mall contrasted dramatically with the last government shutdown, in 2013, when park officials erected barriers around the monuments to keep the public out. Vacationing families were turned away, and a group of veterans ultimately pushed through barricades at the WWII memorial.