If the government shuts down Friday, the Interior Department is telling national parks to stay open

Closure of parks and memorials infuriated the public in 2013 shutdown.<br>

FILE - This Sept. 15, 2015, file photo, shows Zion National Park near Springdale, Utah.National parks in the U.S. will sharply drop the number of days it allows visitors to get in for free. After waiving entrance fees for 16 days in 2016 and 10 days in 2017, the National Park Service announced Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, that it will have four no-cost days next year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Washington • In a stark contrast to how the Obama administration handled the 2013 government shutdown, the Interior Department is telling national parks to stay open as much as possible if Congress doesn’t pass a new spending bill by Friday.

During the 16-day government shutdown four years ago, parks were closed, facilities shuttered and monuments on the National Mall fenced off, moves the Obama administration said were necessary when Congress failed to pass a new budget. The public outrage over the parks and monument closures dominated much of the discussion during the shutdown.

Utah actually came up with a plan and funding to open its national parks in the state during part of that shutdown.

Congressional leaders now are working to pass a short-term budget plan, but government officials are preparing to close down nonessential services late Friday just in case.

In a recent memo to park officials and other public land managers, Interior outlined ways to keep public areas open if possible, though services that require staffing, like campgrounds and concessions, would close.

We fully expect the government to remain open, however in the event of a shutdown, national parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures,” Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement. “Visitors who come to our nation’s capital will find war memorials and open air parks open to the public. Nationally, many of our national parks, refuges and other public lands will still allow limited access wherever possible.”

The military, law enforcement and other critical government employees would still be required to work during the shutdown, though most of the federal workforce, including most park employees, would be furloughed.

In October 2013, when Congress and President Barack Obama were at odds over funding for the Affordable Care Act, the shutdown prompted the National Park Service to erect fencing around the popular memorials in the nation’s capital and post “closed” signs at park entrances.

At one point, several Republican members of Congress pushed through the fencing at the World War II memorial to allow veterans to visit the monument. Republicans argued the Obama administration was purposefully trying to make the shutdown sting more.

The threat of shutdown then was over health care. This time it’s over the soon-to-expire program that allows residents brought to this country illegally as children to continue to live and work here.