National Parks Face Closure After Possible Government Shutdown

Posted: Updated:
Shenandoah National Park Shenandoah National Park

While there are still some broad implications about what a government shutdown would mean locally, there is at least one major impact that's certain. National parks, including Shenandoah National Park, would shut down.

Shenandoah National Park says October makes up a quarter of its annual visitation and the loss of revenue would hurt.

"We'd like to see them get on the ball, but experience shows they haven't really been up to the task in the last couple of years," said Adam Mantzaris, a hiker.

The frustration in Washington stretches to the trails of Shenandoah National Park.

"It's unfortunate that hikers that have planned their vacations around this are actually going to get pulled off of the trail," said Mantzaris.

Mantzaris and Bryan Jackson have been hiking the Appalachian Trail for a combined five months and are disgusted that bickering in Washington means national parks - including in the valley - could close their gates come Tuesday. 

"In my opinion, these national parks, they're the public's. I don't think the government should have the ultimate last say," said Jackson.

If the government does get that final say it could put a significant dent in tourism dollars. This time last year the park saw 240,000 visitors - and the year before that high foot traffic as well. 

"The park in 2011 saw 1.2 million visitors. Those visitors had an impact of $74 million in our local communities," said Karen Beck-Herzog, spokesperson for Shenandoah National Park.

As hikers move forward they hope Washington will stop dragging its feet.

"I don't think the people in Washington have the public's concern as their main priority. I think their main priority is agendas," said Jackson.

Shenandoah National Park officials say 240 employees are currently on board. If the shutdown happens, 200 of them would be furloughed.