05 October 2013

Part 2 On Park Shutdowns

Update: Some folks have suggested contacting the NPS directly with questions and concerns over these park shutdowns. I tried that approach with the last debacle at Gettysburg mentioned in the previous post. I never received a reply- not even a canned response or acknowledgement. That's water over the dam, but I must say I was disappointed and is why I didn't bother this time. 

And additional reports keep pouring in: No photos or even stopping at unattended overlooks are allowed at some parks, including Mount Rushmore. And while those on the left accuse those on the right of using this as a way to criticize the President, those on the left are, hypocritically, using the situation to  express their "disgust" for the Tea Party and others on the right. They're doing the exact same thing they're accusing others of. Also note that the offer by some states to operate some parks has been declined. Why? Also note the House has passed a funding bill for the NPS and parks and it was rejected by the Senate. So who's keeping the parks closed? That one issue, being so contentious, could be laid to rest if the upper House would allow. I think they like the drama.

Also, its been noted that the Skyline Drive has been closed for "safety reasons." Really? Then why is the road portion - all 469 miles - of the Blue Ridge Parkway (which meets the Skyline Drive) still open? Both are controlled by the National Park Service. As a matter of fact, I was on the BRP Friday and portions of it were being paved. And the BRP is just as "winding" a road as the Skyline Drive. Also, the BRP has "dangerous" overlooks which have to be maintained just like the ones shown in the link above for Mount Rushmore. What's really going on here?

Perhaps there are reasonable (and believable) explanations for this. But, again, the NPS is not sacred and is not above legitimate criticism. They are simply stewards. They are answerable to the people who make their positions and places of employment possible. Let's not forget that. Regardless, the NPS is losing the debate and the public sees many (not all) of these closings as petty and vindictive.

End of udpate.

This is a follow up to the previous post about the Federal government shutting down National parks, monuments, battlefields, etc. The current circumstances are, according to some, unprecedented. I mentioned Claude Moore Colonial Farm in the previous post. Here's more details about that living history farm from Fox Business:
Operators of Claude Moore Colonial Farm in Virginia, for example, say they were shocked when the National Park Service ordered their park be shut.  That's because it's been 80% funded by a local non-profit for years, which agreed to take over 100% of the costs of the facility as of October 1. Still, the National Park Service spent taxpayer money to erect barricades around the park and evict everyone from the farm this week.

“We do not know why CMCF was barricaded from public access or why NPS police escorted staff and volunteers off the property right before a fundraising event on Monday. The National Park Service does not pay CMCFs employees, for its operations, maintenance, events or programs,” Claude Moore Colonial Farm Operations Manager Heather Bodin wrote in an email to FOX Business. "In our 32-year history of running the farm, through other government shutdowns, we have never had to close our doors before.”
So what makes this shutdown different? 

Again, these criticisms are coming from many different sources. Here's another one from the Las-Vegas Review Journal:
Blocking access to fee-collecting parks is one thing. Blocking access to free information is another. The Interior Department, which oversees the National Park Service, put in the work last week to render its website useless. This act alone reflects a profound disdain for the taxpaying public . . . If a federal worker can man a barricade, he can staff a fee collection booth. Red Rock Canyon and Lake Mead collect fees. At Red Rock Canyon, October is prime hiking and biking season, with perfect weather. Closing the canyon now is the equivalent of a retailer shutting its doors in December. The Bureau of Land Management is turning away business. Is the National Park Service or the BLM prepared to give all those who bought annual access passes a pro-rated refund? Of course not.
Besides, the House of Representatives passed a bill to reopen and fully fund the parks, which is their constitutional prerogative. The Senate has rejected that option. So who's for closing the parks? 

And one more question. These WWII Veterans practiced civil disobedience and broke through the barricades at the Iwo Jima memorial. Should they be arrested?

Image from the Weekly Standard


ropelight said...

The Blue Ridge Parkway is especially beautiful in mid-October after the leaves turn. Morning light finds deep green grass shining under white frost, and clear days quickly reveal whole mountainsides of intoxicating colors dancing with golden sunbeams in warm mountain breezes that carry the wonderful smell of blue spruce.

Split rails occasionally decorated with redbirds and blue jays line both sides of the Parkway and here and there rambunctious gray squirrels play joyfully in the meadows.

Vivid memories make me long to visit that stretch of road my grandfather worked on from the Peaks of Otter down to the Carolina Line. I've got a brother-in-law at Smith Mountain Lake and it's about time to give him a call.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

We drove it from NC all the way home before. It is quite the driving experience and beautiful, despite the way the property was acquired. Makes it bitter sweet.