Filed under: Campgrounds & RV Parks, Historic Places & Landmarks, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes, State & National Parks
Government Shutdown – Our National Parks are at Risk of Closing
On a blog site that primarily focuses on Family Camping Issues it is generally taboo to bring politics into the discussion – especially when the general political views of the author are thrust upon the readership.
Still, the events unfolding before us today do merit a non-partisan commentary.
Let me make it perfectly clear right up front that I am neither a Democrat or a Republican nor am I a member of the newly organized Tea Party. I am an American and owe nothing to any political party or the organized resistance that arises from their party disputes.
Yet, I always vote and have done so in every state and national election since the day I turned 21 – some 44 years ago. I have voted for Democrats and Republicans with equal distribution. You see, I vote for the man or woman that impresses me the most as someone that is honest, sincere, and capable of representing the people of this great and beautiful country as a leader focused on keeping us that way.
Many have disappointed me.
Once again, our politicians are locked in a battle over a budget that they should have agreed upon and passed back in September of 2010. It appears that the September deadline is no longer considered necessary.
When we wake up tomorrow morning, (Saturday, April 9th) there is a certain possibility that our government will be “unfunded”. The reasons for disagreement between the two parties in the House and Senate as well as our President are well publicized in newspapers, TV news reports and Internet focus sites. There is no need for me to tell you what the issues of contention are.
Fortunately, a complete government shutdown isn’t going to happen. Our military, air traffic controllers, IRS, Homeland Security, and other essential government services will continue to operate.
My home is in the middle of one of these National Parks. The Richmond Battlefield National Park surrounds the very borders of our property. It is staffed by a team of Rangers and support staff that not only care for but also nurture the facilities as they would one of their own children. They have a tremendous pride in their jobs and responsibilities to the visiting public.
Not far from us, we find both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park) – two of Virginia’s most beautiful and visited National Park facilities. Both of these scenic routes that wind across the summits of the Blue Ridge Mountains offer well managed campgrounds for anyone from backpackers to large motor homes. The renowned Appalachian Trail traverses the skyline and intersects with the park’s camping facilities at Big Meadows. Reservations for any of the camping sites can be made up to six months in advance of your planned visit. Popular camping dates often fill up within hours of becoming available.
Various concessionaires operate along the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway offering food, fuel and lodging to travelers entering in either North Carolina or Northern Virginia and traversing the Commonwealth along their routes.
All totaled, Virginia has 33 National Parks. Five of them are major Civil War battlefields. Our state hosts the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park where the Civil War ended and the Yorktown Battlefield where the American Revolution effectively ended. It would be a good place to effectively end the stalemates that result in government shutdowns.
Tomorrow morning, all of these facilities may close. Closure will deny accessibility to one of our greatest treasures to millions of Americans and foreign visitors. Last year, over $20 billion was generated for Virginia’s economy by these National Parks. The cost to the Commonwealth and surrounding communities in lost tourist dollars could run into the millions with a shutdown lasting only a week.
Anyone currently camping in one of these Federal facilities will be told to leave. Current reservations will be cancelled and the gates allowing access will be closed and locked. Concessionaires that have stocked up on merchandise, fuel, and supplies will likely lose the perishable portion of their investment. Unlike the possibility of retroactive pay to the federal employees furloughed in the process, there is no provision for making up the millions in lost dollars to visitors and surrounding communities.
The scenario will undoubtedly be the same across the nation as other National Parks begin their shutdown.
How long will closure of our National Parks last? No one knows. The shutdown in 1995 lasted over 20 days. During that time, millions were denied access to our great treasures and the impact to neighboring economies amounted to billions in lost revenue.
I hope you will join me in trusting that our elected congressional representatives and President will think and act rationally beyond their respective party agendas. A government shutdown will solve nothing and only prove once again that the cost to the American people in the loss – however temporary – of access to our greatest geological and historical treasures can never be replaced by any means of proposed restitution. This is a loss to our country that does not need to happen. No amount of finger pointing and blame placed on “the other guy” will make it any better – or acceptable. I can’t help but wonder: How will we explain the logic of this event to our children?
HAPPY AND SAFE CAMPING TRAILS TO ALL!
Do you camp with a pet? Please visit my No Pet Add-On Fees website at http://vastateparkscamping.com/ or by clicking on the blue highlighted and underlined text above for information regarding camping with pets in Virginia State Parks.
Private e-mails can be sent to: RandynNancyageeatgmaildotcom (substitute a @ symbol for the bold at and a period . for the bold dot when entering the address into your e-mail program).