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Park Service site returns to Web

Nature lovers hoping to get an early start on their summer travel plans can once again surf the National Park Service's Web pages.

Nature lovers hoping to get an early start on their summer travel plans can once again surf the National Park Service's Web pages.

The Department of Interior is slowly restoring portions of its Web site after shutting down its entire computer system in December to comply with a court order.

A federal court ordered the closure of the department's system because of security concerns involving a system that manages a fund for American Indians. Now, a court-appointed "special master," who is reviewing the case, is allowing certain parts of the computer system and Web site back online as officials prove the areas are secure and isolated from the fund data.

Department spokesman John Wright said about 40 percent of the site is back up, but he wouldn't set a target date for the entire system.

"We're moving as rapidly as we possibly can," Wright said.

The blanket closure sparked protests from thousands of people, including travelers and backcountry campers who make online plans, and from environmental groups, which accused the administration of hiding information about certain projects.

The National Park Service site, called ParkNet, is one of the Department of Interior's most popular sections, drawing about 300 million visits per year.