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Donald Trump, Mike Pence and acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in Washington, DC on Jan. 21. MANDEL NGAN / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump officially nominated David Bernhardt—a former energy lobbyist environmental groups have described as a "walking conflict of interest"—to officially take over as interior secretary after Ryan Zinke stepped down in December 2018 following various scandals.

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A volunteer's car full of trash collected at Joshua Tree National Park in California during the shutdown. NPCA Photos

The partial government shutdown that has endangered nature and visitors at understaffed national parks finally came to an end Friday, when President Donald Trump agreed to temporarily reopen the government despite not receiving any money for his proposed border wall.

The deal will put some 800,000 federal workers, who have now missed two paychecks, back to work while the president and Congress try and reach a deal over funding for the wall that would put 93 species at risk from extinction. But the fix, which ends the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, is only temporary.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Volunteer Alexandra Degen cleans a restroom at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 4 in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

As the partial government shutdown drags on, volunteers across the country are rolling up their sleeves to preserve our beloved national parks.

At Joshua Tree National Park—which nearly closed due to a buildup of trash, human waste and vandalism—a team of volunteers have helped clean the park's overflowing toilets and dumpsters on just about every day of the government impasse, Outside Online reported.

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Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke extended an existing mining ban in mountains north of Yellowstone National Park on Monday.

The move withdraws more than 30,000 acres of public lands in Montana's Paradise Valley from new claims for gold, silver and other mineral extraction for 20 years. It does not impact existing mining claims on private lands in the area.

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Alaska's Kenai Fjords National Park, which was impacted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, could be harmed again if expanded offshore drilling plans go through. National Park Service

Sixty-eight National Parks along the coastal U.S. could be in danger from devastating oil spills if President Donald Trump's plan to open 90 percent of coastal waters to offshore oil drilling goes through, a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Parks Conservation Association found.

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Ryan Zinke and Lamar Alexander in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Aug. 25, 2017. Knoxville News Sentinel / YouTube

By Andrea Germanos

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to argue that the best way to fix the national parks is by pillaging public lands for fossil fuels.

Their CNN op-ed published Wednesday focuses on the $11.6 billion repair backlog the parks face—"our parks are being loved to death," they write. They say revenue to address the infrastructure repairs can come through their proposed legislation, the National Park Restoration Act (S.2509). Lamar is the sponsor of the bipartisan legislation, which he introduced at the behest of Zinke, and as the Interior Department noted in a press release, it "follows the blueprint laid out in Secretary Zinke and President Trump's budget proposal, the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund."

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Utah's Zion National Park. Jared / Flickr

As the nation observes National Park Week, the Interior Department released a report Wednesday touting that visits to national parks added $35.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017—a nearly $1 billion increase from the year prior—and supported 306,000 jobs.

The National Park Service said more than 330 million visitors spent $18.2 billion in the communities near the national parks last year.

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Entrance to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. iwona_kellie / Flickr

By Sam Schipani

The National Park Service announced on Thursday new entrance-fee increases for national parks across the country. The entrance price for most fee-collecting national parks will increase by $5 per vehicle, with additional increases for park-specific annual passes and motorcycles varying across parks, depending on their "size and type." The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain unchanged at $80.

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Arizona lost out on $27 million of revenue during the 2013 government shutdown, with the Grand Canyon alone amounting for $17 million of it. Anna Irene / Flickr

You might want to reconsider your plans if you intend to visit a national park this weekend. While the park might be open, there probably won't be any rangers on site, which could pose a serious risk to safety.

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to keep many national parks and monuments open if the government shuts down on Friday, the Washington Post reported. The move is meant to avoid the public outrage sparked by the closure of parks and memorials during the 2013 shutdown.

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Dawn on the S rim of the Grand Canyon. Murray Foubister / Flickr

The Havasupai Tribe and a coalition of conservation groups praised the decision Tuesday by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Department of the Interior's 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

The court ruled that the ban, adopted in 2012, complies with the Constitution and federal environmental laws, and that the protected area was not too large, as plaintiff mining companies had argued. The ban protects the aquifers and streams that feed the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon from toxic uranium-mining waste pollution and water depletion.

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Grizzly sow and cubs near Fishing Bridge. Yellowstone National Park / Flickr

Over the summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided to strip Yellowstone grizzly bears of Endangered Species Act protections, sparking condemnation from conservationists over the agency's “flawed" ruling.

But now, USFWS is reviewing this decision thanks to an appeals court ruling that restored protections for a completely different animal that was taken off the endangered species list: the Great Lakes gray wolf.

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