national parks

Updated Jan. 10 at 3:50 p.m. ET

The U.S. government has been operating under a partial shutdown since Dec. 22. The shutdown, driven by a political battle over President Trump's demand that Congress approve funds for a wall along the border with Mexico, is touching the lives of Americans in myriad ways.

The superintendent of Yellowstone National Park says he's being forced out of his job. Daniel Wenk was informed on Tuesday that the National Park Service will replace him this August.

"I'm feeling like I devoted 43 years of my life, I think I have a record of achievement with the National Park Service that at the end of the day doesn't matter and that I'm no longer wanted at Yellowstone National Park," Wenk told Yellowstone Public Radio.

The Interior Department is abandoning a plan to more than double entrance fees to some of the country's most popular national parks, opting instead to apply a "modest" fee increase to 117 parks beginning this summer in an effort to raise funds for park maintenance.

The announcement Thursday comes after an outcry from the public and from lawmakers, who were concerned that certain large increases that were initially proposed would price people out of the nation's parks.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Nearly all of the seats on the U.S. National Park Service advisory board are vacant following a mass resignation Monday night, with ex-members citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's unwillingness to meet with them.

There are thousands of parks, refuges and wilderness areas in the U.S. that are kept in something close to their natural state. But one form of pollution isn't respecting those boundaries: man-made noise.

New research based on recordings from 492 protected natural areas reveals that they're awash in noise pollution.

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area in south-central Oklahoma is not a national park — but it used to be. And the story of what happened illustrates a changing view of what national parks are for.

For over a century, the area's mineral-rich springs have been a gathering point for locals, travelers and tribes that were forcibly relocated to land that later became Oklahoma, says Debbie Sharp, president of the Friends of Chickasaw National Recreation Area, a nonprofit group.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The National Park Service turns 100 this year, and many states are celebrating top-tier environmental landmarks that are a big source of local pride. About half the U.S. states don’t have a national park — including Oklahoma.

That wasn’t always the case, and the story of what happened illustrates a changing view of what national parks are for.

‘A PARK OF THE PEOPLE’

Driving through the gold-brown savanna of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, past its Dr. Seuss-like trees and water-carved rocks, it's easy to see why the national parks have been called America's Best Idea.

Spend a few hours with some of the park's employees, like Cultural Resources Branch Chief Jason Theuer, and you'll see that national parks are also another thing: expensive. There is a nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog of work that needs be done but isn't because of limited money.

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