The nonprofit Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park is continuing to operate through the partial federal government shutdown that has impacted the park — even footing the bill to keep some events from being canceled.

“The good news is that we have been able to continue most of our work but it is impacting us financially,” Conservancy Chief Executive Officer Deb Yandala said Wednesday.

The National Park Service has closed restrooms, trails and facilities, and furloughed workers during the partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22. Public roads through the 33,000-acre park remain open.

In related news, the shutdown is not expected to derail the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's upcoming season. The railroad is also run by a nonprofit agency in partnership with the national park.

The Peninsula-based Conservancy, which jointly operates some buildings, co-manages the volunteer program and raises money for park projects, is trying to keep the park accessible, especially for people who rented space for weddings and outings.

Yandala said the nonprofit must pay the utilities for the buildings that it uses during the shutdown. That amounts to $250 a day for the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, for example. Several weddings also were held at park buildings last weekend.

The Conservancy made sure the weddings took place as scheduled.

“We're not going to tell people that you can't have your wedding,” she said. “We don't want [visitors] impacted negatively. We feel they should have access to the park.”

But the costs are adding up, Yandala said. A furnace broke down at one of the buildings that the Conservancy leases. The park system would normally take care of that bill, but the nonprofit paid $1,000 to make repairs to keep the building open, she said.

The Conservancy's Trail Mix store, which sells gifts at 1600 W. Mill St., also remains open daily, with Yandala noting that the bathrooms are open to the public, “which is something that people are looking for.”

Yandala said that one of the challenges facing the park is keeping it clean. Some garbage cans are overflowing because park workers are not there to empty them.

She encouraged visitors to take their trash with them when they leave the park.

“It's one of the biggest issues we're going to face in the park is keeping the park clean when these services aren't provided by the government,” she said. “From the Conservancy's perspective that raises a big concern. We want visitors to have a safe experience when in our park.”

However, the shutdown hasn't impacted the construction of the new full-service Boston Mills Visitor Center at Riverview and Boston Mills roads. That $5.9 million project is being overseen by the Conservancy so work can continue, although the nonprofit hired a company to handle archaeological work that was being monitored by park employees.

Yandala hopes the partial shutdown ends soon.

“I don't believe shutting down national parks or services in national parks is a good way to solve conflict,” she said.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park officials couldn't be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which runs through the park, will offer its first rides of the year on Jan. 19.

“Hopefully everything is resolved by then,” President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Mazur said. “Even if it isn't, we've taken measures with the park to take over the areas that they handle.”

The government owns the railroad tracks through the park and the Rockside Road station in Independence. The Peninsula station is privately owned while the Akron station is owned by the Metro Regional Transit Authority.

The railroad, which had 213,540 riders in 2017, would install portable toilets and be responsible for salting and snowplowing at the Rockside site.

“It should not be a problem,” Mazur said.

The Scenic Railroad provides scenic excursions through the park. It also offers dinner and beer- and wine-themed trips.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.