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Rep. Rob Bishop, the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee wants the National Park Service to provide information on their decision to use visitor fees to open national parks and provide services during the current partial government shutdown.

Bishop also wants information on seven deaths in national parks since the shutdown began on December 22.

E&E news reports Bishop sent a letter to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Tuesday asking for the rationale behind using visitor fees to reopen the parks, even though he praised the decision.

"I commend your actions to minimize the lapse in appropriations' disruption to the American people's safe enjoyment of our public lands," Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the panel's ranking member, said in a letter to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

 

Bishop compared the current situation to the shutdown of 2013, when he said the Obama administration "took extraordinary measures to deny the public access to the nation's parks," such as barricading monuments on the National Mall.

 

"While the Obama administration claimed such actions were taken to safeguard 'life and property,' it could not prevent the suicide of a man who set himself on fire the afternoon of Oct. 4, 2013, on the National Mall," Bishop wrote.

Bishop asked Bernhardt to provide documents showing the number and manner of all deaths in national parks since 2014 and during the government shutdown in 1995.