Government Shut-Down Affects Local Parks

Many public facilities are closing their doors across America today as congress reached a stalemate about the new health act. Many areas are affected but few more so locally than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Dana Soehn of the Parks Department has told WRGC that they are currently sending word to close down visitor’s centers, campgrounds, and hiking trails to name just a few services. Campers and park goers will have 48 hours to clear out, that’s 6pm Thursday, October 3rd. WRGC would like to remind everyone that highway 441 from Gatlinburg to Cherokee will remain open, however trails, parking lots, and restroom facilities will be closed. Dana Soehn stated that of the 326 government employees, 279 are on furlough, the remaining employees consist of mainly law enforcement officers and water treatment specialists who make sure they stay in compliance with water quality regulations. Dana Sohen had the following to say on the shut down, “We have over one million visitors that come during October alone, so we know we are disappointing people who would normally be filling up our campgrounds. We have 820 campsites scattered across the park.” She also mentioned a few other people who are disappointed due to the park closure, “There are a lot of special uses around the month of October that people don’t traditionally think about, we had 53 weddings scheduled for the month of October and of course they all got the notices that we are closed. You think of our education programs, we were calling teachers today to cancel field trips.”