Shut us down, ship ’em out

Published 5:35 pm Saturday, October 5, 2013

“Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service webpages are not operating. For more information, go to”

That’s the message you get when you try to access official information about North Carolina’s national parks: nothing. Stick around and you’ll get shunted over to the U.S. Department of Interior’s website.

“The state’s national parks are shut down, so what?” some might ask. So weddings are being canceled, family vacations are being put on hold, fishermen are canceling their Outer Banks trips, the leaf-peepers aren’t making the trek to the mountains for their favorite time of the year. Big deal, right?

Right. It is a big deal — because North Carolinians are losing a lot of money every day.

The National Parks Service sent out a press release last week laying out the economic impact of the mandatory closure of national parks. In real numbers, the picture is ugly — economic losses of $76 million per day for local communities nationwide.

Listed by state, North Carolina is beaten out only by California, Washington, D.C., and Arizona as being the most economically impacted by the government shutdown. North Carolina — its inns, hotels, shops, restaurants, gas stations, every single business that supports the state’s thriving tourism industry near national parks and all of their employees — is losing $4.4 million per day.

These are real people losing money they depend on for their livelihoods. And they won’t get back pay when it’s over and done with.

Here in North Carolina, there’s rebellion in the air. The manager of the Pisgah Inn in the Blue Ridge Mountains defied government orders and reopened this week. The privately operated inn is situated on leased federal property. The stand only lasted about two hours, however, as National Park Service rangers blocked the inn’s entrances off the Blue Ridge Parkway and told visitors the government was closed.

Now others are testing the waters: both the owner of the Avon Pier — with its entrance ramp on Cape Hatteras National Seashore land — and the CEO of The Lost Colony — its Waterside Theater located at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site — have announced they will resume business as usual and notified the National Park Service. The shutdown interrupted the Roanoke Island Historical Association’s major fall fundraiser, “Psychopath.” As the performance is not supported or funded by the National Park Service, nor the federal government, the organization believes cancelling it to be fiscally irresponsible.

Fiscally irresponsible — that pretty much sums the entire situation up, don’t you think?