Posts Tagged ‘visitor centers’

National parks closedBecause of the shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service has closed all 401 national parks and suspended operation of dozens of community assistance programs.

All park grounds, visitor centers, hotels, campgrounds, and park roads – except for thru ways – are closed. All programs are canceled and permits issued for special events on park grounds nationwide are rescinded.

Park visitors in all overnight campgrounds and lodges have been given until no later than 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, October 3 to make other arrangements and leave the park.

National parks will remain closed until the government reopens.

The National Park System hosts more than 282 million people per year, and more than 715,000 people per day in October. Those visitors spend about $76 million per day in communities near national parks.

Examples of impacts of a shutdown of the National Park Service include:

  • 15,000 people a day planning to visit the Statue of Liberty will have their reservations cancelled.
  • All mule trips in Grand Canyon National Park, an iconic tradition dating back more than 125 years, will be cancelled.
  • More than 7,500 people a day coming to enjoy Old Faithful and the other splendors of Yellowstone National Park will be turned away.
  • The cancellation of thousands of interpretive and education programs and special events at parks across the country.

An October shutdown is costing the National Park Service an estimated $450,000 per day in lost revenue from fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for in-park activities such as cave tours, boat rides and camping.

The shutdown will affect more than 20,000 National Park Service employees, who are furloughed until an appropriation is passed (3,000 employees continue to work, providing essential services, including security, emergency services and firefighting). Additionally, approximately 25,000 concession employees are employed in national parks during the summer and about half of them are still on the job in early October.

Because it will not be maintained, the National Park Service website will be down for the duration of the shutdown, closing off access to 750,000 web pages about national parks and programs. NPS.gov is used extensively for educational purposes and travel planning by 91 million unique visitors every year.

For updates on the shutdown, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.

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National Park Ranger

National Park Ranger

Up to now the public has mostly shrugged its shoulders at the federal cutbacks caused by sequestration. That can partially be attributed to the way in which a variety of agencies weathered what they thought were temporary reductions – “through furloughs and deferral of maintenance and training, with the hope that sequestration would ultimately be reversed.

But that may not happen. And, to be sure, the initial impacts have already been felt in parts of the country, especially at national parks. Over Memorial Day weekend, the Arizona Republic reported drivers sitting in their car for an hour to enter the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park – an abnormally long wait blamed on staff reductions. There were also fewer rangers to protect area parks even after cactuses were vandalized.

Elsewhere, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway, campgrounds and visitor centers have closed and ranger-led programs were cancelled. In Glacier National Park, it appeared the sudden loss of $682,000 from its roughly $12.5 budget million could delay plowing Going-to-the-Sun Road. If that were to happen – if the opening of the park’s signature attraction was delayed – the public outcry and tourism dollars lost would be equally substantial.

Instead, the Glacier National Park Conservancy, which raises financial support for various resources and aspects of park operations, donated about $10,000 to help cover plowing costs. That, and salary savings from unanticipated personnel changes, allowed the road to open on schedule.

But what happens next year? Or the year after that? Perhaps the worst part of the reoccurring budget battles in Congress is agencies have no idea how much money they will be allocated. It’s impossible to plan long-term when funding is short-term. If sequestration is permanent then lawmakers need to say as much and their constituents who reap the economic benefits of living near national parks can brace for the impact.

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West Virginia LogoA number of campgrounds, visitor centers, trails and offices on federally managed land across West Virginia remain closed due to damage from recent storms.

In Greenbrier County, the Lake Sherwood Recreation Area, home of the largest lake and biggest and busiest campground in the Monongahela National Forest, is closed until further notice because of damage from overturned trees and windblown branches.

Several other developed campgrounds in the Monongahela still lack power and water as a result of the storm, but have reopened to accommodate primitive camping, according to the forest’s website.

In the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, the Trout Pond Recreation Area near Wardensville in Hampshire County remains closed indefinitely due to storm damage. The area contains Rock Cliff Lake, a popular trout-fishing water with a swimming beach, and Trout Pond, West Virginia’s only natural lake, as well as 64 campsites.

In the National Park Service’s New River Gorge National River, the park’s headquarters building in Glen Jean remained closed on Monday due to a lack of power. “We hope to have power restored in the next couple of weeks,” said park spokeswoman Robin Snyder.

Power was restored to the Canyon Rim, Thurmond and Grandview visitor centers on Monday, and all were expected to reopen today, Snyder said.

“Park crews continue to work clearing trees on roads, campgrounds and trails,” she said.

The only other areas of the park that remain closed due to storm damage are the Turkey Spur Overlook in the Grandview Unit, and the Rend Trail linking Thurmond to Minden. Downed trees may be encountered on park trails that remain open.

Several popular campgrounds located on recreation areas managed by the Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also remain closed due to power outages and storm damage.

At Summersville Lake in Nicholas County, the 117-site Battle Run Campground, with two bathhouses and a laundry facilities, remained closed on Monday, although Corps officials were hopeful the campground would reopen sometime today.

In Braxton County, Burnsville Lake’s Bulltown Campground was open, but the 60-site Riffle Run Campground remained closed, while at Sutton Lake, Bakers Run and Gerald R. Freeman campgrounds, with a total of nearly 240 campsites, remained closed, while the Bee Run Campground was open.

All Corps of Engineers’ campgrounds at Wayne County’s East Lynn Lake had reopened by Monday afternoon, according to Huntington District spokesman Chuch Minsker.

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