Federal shutdown closes Natchez Trace; road remains open
by MBJ Staff
Published: October 2,2013
ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Because of the shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service (NPS) has closed all 401 national parks, including the Natchez Trace Parkway.
The Parkway motor road remains open, but no government facilities are available. All restrooms, visitor centers, sites, campgrounds, etc. are closed. Law enforcement rangers remain on-duty for protection of Parkway resources and to ensure public safety, and visitors are reminded that they are not to enter a closed or barricaded area of the park.
The closure will remain in effect until the government reopens.
Acting superintendent Dale Wilkerson said that park visitors in all overnight campgrounds will be given until 5 p.m. tomorrow to make travel arrangements and leave the park. In addition, all park programs and special events have been or will be canceled.
The Natchez Trace Parkway hosts almost 16,000 recreational visitors on average each day in October; nationally, more than 715,000 visitors a day frequent the National Park System. Nationwide the NPS stands to lose approximately $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. Gateway communities across the country see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown. Visitors to the Natchez Trace Parkway spend about $93 million per year in the communities surrounding the park.
At the Natchez Trace Parkway, 127 employees are on furlough because of the shutdown. Approximately 30 employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services. In an emergency visitors should call 911, or they may call the Park Emergency Dispatch Center at 662-680-4002.
Nationwide the shutdown has also furloughed more than 20,000 National Park Service employees; approximately 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concessions employees are also affected.
Because it will not be maintained, the National Park Service website will be down for the duration of the shutdown. NPS.gov has more than 750,000 pages and 91 million unique visitors each year.
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