Shutdown: Zion National Park closes, what else is affected?

ST. GEORGE – As the House and Senate failed to reach an agreement over a resolution to continue funding the government in lieu of having an actual budget Monday night, the first government shutdown in 17 years has occurred. While essential services and personnel remain open and on-staff, nonessential services and workforces have been suspended for the time being.

Major areas suspended by the government shut down include the following as compiled from CNN and CBS News:

Some of what gets suspended/affected:

  • The National Park Service has closed down, meaning national parks and monuments are closed

    • Locally this impacts Zion National Park and the Red Cliffs National Recreational Area, as well as the Glen Canyon (Lake Powell) National Recreation Area, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and more
  • An estimated 800,000 civilian government workers are placed on furlough, plus half of those working for the Department of Defense
  • The IRS has suspended audit appointments
  • WIC, the Woman, Infants and Children assistance program has been suspended
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has suspended its annual flu program and disease surveillance
  • Government-run websites and Twitter accounts have also been suspended until further notice
  • Federal courts will continue as usual for the next 10 business days; after that the furloughs begin

Some of what continues

  • Active-duty military personnel will continue to be paid
  • Military and veteran services will continue, though it may take longer for certain claims to Veterans Affairs to be processed
  • The U.S. Postal Services continues on, be it though rain, snow, shine, or government shutdown
  • Homeland Security operations will continue
  • Social Security payments will continue unhindered
  • The president and Congress continue to be paid. The 27th Amendment of the Constitution maintains the salaries of the Congress at this time, while the president’s salary is considered mandatory spending.

Zion National Park

 

(L-R) Wendy Harris, a Springdale buisness owner, and Teresa Soper, who drives a park tour bus, stand outside of the entrance of Zion National Park asking whoever will pay attention to help "save out parks," Springdale, Utah, Oct. 1, 2013 | photo by Dan Mabbutt, St. George News
(L-R) Wendy Harris, a Springdale buisness owner, and Teresa Soper, who drives a park tour bus, stand outside of the entrance of Zion National Park asking whoever will pay attention to help “save our parks,” Springdale, Utah, Oct. 1, 2013 | photo by Dan Mabbutt, St. George News

So what about Washington County? One of the biggest impacts, as previously mentioned, is likely the closure of Zion National Park. Aside from visitors losing out on one of the county’s great natural wonders, a great deal of revenue generated from the park will be lost.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, an average of 10,000 people visit the park every day. Daily car entry fees alone, $25 each, generate roughly $50,000 each day.

The park will remain closed until the partisan bickering in Washington, D.C. is somehow settled. Until then, only the highway through Zion National Park will remain open. However, oversized vehicles, such as motor homes, are not being allowed to go through due to tunnel size-restrictions. People who stop by the side of the road to take photos will likely find themselves getting ticketed by a park ranger. Campers in the park have been given 48 hours to leave.

Aly Baltrus, public information officer for Zion National Park, told the Salt Lake Tribune that park staff have been directing visitors to nearby state parks that will not be affected by the government shutdown.

With the closure of the parks will also come an impact on the local tourism industry.

The Town of Springdale, which sits at the mouth of Zion Canyon, issued a press release saying the town “will remain open and ready to accommodate visitors. Those with plans to visit Zion Canyon should still come to Springdale and experience the Town’s unique charm and natural beauty.”

Alternatives to Zion National Park

From the Town of Springdale:

Visitors to Springdale will be able to enjoy the scenery and majesty of Zion Canyon, even if Zion National Park will officially be closed. Springdale is located in the heart of Zion Canyon, immediately adjacent to Zion National Park’s visitor’s center, and offers a sweeping panorama of some of the Park’s most impressive scenic vistas. Additionally, the road from Zion National Park’s South Entrance to the East Entrance will remain open, offering visitors a chance to drive through the Park’s incredible scenery.

Further, there are opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor recreation outside of Zion National Park for visitors to enjoy. Eagle Crags and the Guacamole Trail offer incredible views of Zion’s towering mesas. Gooseberry Mesa and the Hurricane Rim / Jem Trail are world renowned mountain biking and hiking trails with incredible scenery. Canaan Mountain is an unspoiled wilderness area offering solitude in a pristine red sandstone setting. Kolob Reservoir is a lovely alpine lake surrounded by cottonwood trees, many of which are now turning golden with fall color. All these areas are minutes away from Springdale and will remain open and accessible to visitors. The Town encourages visitors to explore some of these lesser known areas and discover their unparalleled and unspoiled beauty. The Town has a number of guiding and outfitting companies that can offer more detailed suggestions on alternative’s to hiking in Zion National Park.

The Town of Springdale is home to many fine restaurants, galleries and gift shops. The Town offers a variety of lodging accommodations, from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious resorts. The Town has recently been recognized in a number of travel publications as a premier tourist destination. All these accommodations and services will remain open in the event of a government shutdown. Visitors should plan on coming to Springdale and enjoying all the Town has to offer.

Interstate 15 roadwork

There will be no immediate impacts on roadwork in Washington County, as those projects are already funded, Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Kitchen said. 

Mall Drive Bridge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has shutdown its facilities across its Mountain-Prairie region due to the inability of the houses of Congress to play well with each other. The region includes Utah, as well as Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

While the shut down affects lands and facilities managed by the agency, it also affects permissions the City of St. George is trying to get for the construction of the Mall Drive Bridge.

Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George, said the shutdown “could potentially impact the progress on the Mall Drive project.” However, he said that having to deal with delays at the government level is nothing new for the city.

City officials are hoping to begin construction of the Mall Drive Bridge early next year. This requires Fish and Wildlife to give the OK, yet due to the shutdown in place that process may likely be delayed.

The last government shutdowns occurred in 1995 and 1996 and lasted a total of 27 days and cost over $1.4 billion.

Ed. Note: Information regarding the salaries of the president and congress has been clarified.

Resources:

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • Hunter October 1, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Just to clarify, the presidential and congressional salaries are not considered essential in the context of a shutdown. They continue because they are not one of the budget items up for debate/approval. These salaries cannot constitutionally be touched right now. The reason for this was to actually protect us from legislators voting pay raises before elections. Sort of funny that this protective measure works in their favors during this situation.

    • Mori Kessler Mori Kessler October 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      This bit of info has been clarified and corrected. Thank you for pointing it out.

  • Murat October 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Looks like my window has arrived. Time for some base jumping in Zion!

  • Bretticus October 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    “The president and Congress continue to be paid…” of course. If the vote effected that, you bet we’d come to a compromise soon!

    On anther note, don’t you think the conversation at google this morning went something like this, “How can we best let everyone know that the government shutdown sucks…any significant dates for parks? Oh, look, it’s the 123rd birthday of Yosemite. Thank heavens it’s not Cedar Breaks or Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River! Okay, go with that!” 123rd??

  • Alice October 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Wasn’t a bill on terrorism passed a few years ago???? I bet if we look close enough, these jerks in Congress could be legally considered terrorists and sent to Gitmo. They would serve us better there than in DC.

  • DoubleTap October 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    The shutdown means nearly 1 million “non-essential” government employees will stay home….if they are “non-essential employees”, why do we need them at all then? Those salaries could be put to better use elsewhere.
    And Obama finds an extra 100 million dollars for a scheduled Asian trip to include a visit to his motherland in Africa.

  • Steve October 1, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Please visit these parks and report on exactly what is going on for all of us. Tell us if pedestrians cannot walk into Zion Canyon, if there is a chaotic parking problem near the Virgin River bridge, if park rangers are really giving citations for people taking photographs, if it’s possible to go hiking east of the Zion Tunnel, if the parking lots at Cedar Breaks are blocked off, if people can access Fantasy Canyon at Bryce Canyon, if there are road blocks on roads through the Arizona Strip, if the gate near Jacob Lake leading to the North Rim is shut and locked, etc. And then get those responsible for all these closures to explain each and every closure to the owners of these lands (the American taxpayers), and urge them to stop making it unnecessarily hard for us to enjoy our public lands. In particular, ask the directors of Zion National Park to explain why they refused to tell anybody about their intended actions in the case of a shutdown and why they can’t leave the park’s website running during the shutdown. It really seems that they have gone out of their way to make this an unpleasant experience, when that was not necessary.

  • Maggie October 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Oh unpleasant they will make it! Just remember our Utah guys and many more have requested that the Senate allow some of these services be restored . Harry Reid refuses to do so. Make sure you get the facts folks.

    The White House was closed to the public after the sequester. Yet everyone that the Obamas choose to come to the WH there is funding to do so. The common working stiffs that pay for all that the fools in DC have, are not invited we are not affordable.

    The entire federal workforce has received a taxpayer break re Obamacare. Is it not time to bring it all to a halt until these folks realize who works for who?

    I do not have much but if there are those in need in my community, tell us how we can help

    • Karen October 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Well, the facts are that it was those “little CRs” that the Republicans in the House proposed never even made it out of the House. They didn’t even get to the Senate. Besides, they were just window dressing anyway. The Republicans looked at the most visible signs of the shutdown and decided magnanimously to try and remedy those. Never mind the CDC who had to turn away 200 people and children so far this week for cancer trials and the kids in Headstart and WIC. Those programs aren’t so visible and apparently aren’t worth opening back up.

      Everyone should know by now that the sequestered White House tours were closed to the public by the Secret Service as a national security issue. The President had nothing to do with it.

      In addition, the statement “the entire federal workforce has received a tax break under Obamacare” is not true. Most federal employees insured under FEHBP will not be forced to switch to Obamacare exchanges. It is only the Congress and their staffs that have to go the exchanges and only because a Republican demanded it. Then they became the only federal employees who didn’t get an employer contribution so the fix has now caused a silly Republican talking point.

      You know it is possible to get correct information by researching the actual source material in each of these items.

  • truthseeker October 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    This is incredible. Can anyone else see the fear mongering going on with the supposed govt shut down. The govt still functions and operates, but they choose to shut down things like parks and monuments. Veterans that have travelled thousands of miles to see the WW2 monument in D.C. are finding there are barricades there and are being arrested if the walk the monument. Folks, it doesn’t take much monetary resources to keep monuments and parka open. . Meanwhile, the govt builds a $100000 dollar outhouse, spends $2 billion on one domestic spying complex . They can spend billions on unnecessary things but make the govt shut down seem legit by shutting down things like this. Ha. Does it not sound odd to you?.. the rest of the world is scratching their heads by the way… How does the supposed richest and best(not) country in the world have govt shut downs when they have had the highest budgets and spending in history of the world?.. it’s a joke. Wake up people. This makes no sense. Forget about the games congress plays with eachother and the imaginary money called debt and it’s supposed cieling or cliff haha. It’s just a show. We can negotiate with criminals and terrorists and tyrants abroad, yet we can’t negotiate with our own fellow Americans? Time to transcend this system and govern ourselves.
    P.S. Americans with a spine will revolt the moment money is garnished from our bank accounts to pay the fine for Obamacare, if that is the case. And also if we grt a tax lien taken out of our homes if we don’t take the ridiculous health care. To the nay sayers, I didn’t say it would happen, but I’m saying the possibility of it happening is enough of a warning for me. It’s called being informed people. Start getting in the govts business since they are in yours. Now!!!

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