US Government Shutdown To Close National Parks & Monuments First

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 30, 2013 8:20 pm

National parks are among the first government services that will be affected by a government shutdown. The United States federal government shutdown takes effect October 1st, 2013 and it could affect the economy negatively in the long-term as it did in 1995-96, when the U.S. lost over $1 billion dollars. The shutdown comes at a time when policy makers are at a stand-still over the Obamacare Plan. With both parties up in arms, unable to make a decision and without funding, the federal government slows to a stop.

Yikes… so what does this mean for the ski and mountain communities? Plenty.

Tourism will take a hit. The rangers who run National monuments and National Park sites are considered “non-essential” federal employees, and will be closed immediately starting Tuesday.

yosemite national park, federal government shutdown

National Parks like Yosemite will be the first to close their gates during a federal shutdown. Photo: Ski Channel | Jodi Trivers

Stephanie Burkhart, a spokeswoman with the National Park Service, said that immediately following a shutdown, all day use visitors will be asked to leave every park. People staying at campgrounds and park hotels will be given 48 hours to leave, she added.

Of roughly 23,000 national parks employees, 20,000 will be furloughed, and only essential law enforcement, maintenance and fire personnel will remain, she said. Major roads that run through parks, like the Tioga Road, a state highway running through Yosemite’s high country, will remain open. Back country hikers will be allowed to stay until their permits expire.

President Barack Obama stated in his national address:

“If the Congress does not fulfill its responsibility to pass a budget today, much of the United States government will be forced to shut down tomorrow… NASA will shut down almost entirely… Business owners would see delays in raising capital, seeking infrastructure permits, or rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.”

With a federal government shutdown, MercuryNews reports that padlocks are expected to begin going up Tuesday at the gates of over 400 national parks across the United States from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to the Washington Monument. Thousands of visitors will be sent home, and local businesses will suffer.

However, there are many other immediate concerns, especially in Southern California where many citizens rely on federal services, and military populations are high. The military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel would stay on duty, although they would be paid later. About 400,000 people, half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees, would be sent home without pay. As of Tuesday, it is possible that many health services, IRS and passport services will not be answering calls, as doors will be temporarily shut.

Tourism will take a hit, with monuments like the Grand Canyon in Arizona or the National Zoo in Washington closing its gates. The rangers who run these sites are considered “non-essential” federal employees, so the national parks will be closed.

If the shutdown lasts a few days, any financial hardship would be felt mostly by furloughed workers, according Voanews.com. If the shutdown lasts a few weeks, tourism revenues would slip and anxious American consumers and businesses would think twice before spending money.

Why can’t lawmakers agree on a spending bill? According to Voanews.com, the Republican and Democratic Parties disagree on a plan to provide health care insurance to millions of uninsured Americans. Republican members of the House of Representatives are refusing to sign an appropriations bill that includes funding for the health care program, known as Obamacare. Democratic members of the Senate are refusing to sign a spending plan that does not fund Obamacare.

Tuesday is the first day for uninsured Americans to shop for and buy health insurance policies on the exchanges. According to USA Today, Obama said Monday that those exchanges will open regardless of what Congress does.

As President Barack Obama stated in his national address, the federal government is America’s largest employer with over 2 million civilian workers and 1.4 million active-duty military serving around the globe.

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