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Government shutdown: Last of park visitors leaving as gates close

October 02, 2013|By Los Angeles Times staff

As the nation entered Day 2 of a federal government shutdown, national parks in California were clearing out the last of their visitors, with the gates locking behind them.

The National Park Service operates 26 parks and other landmarks in California that logged nearly 36 million visitors in 2012, so the effect on tourists and outdoor enthusiasts was immediate. Visitors already staying at campgrounds or lodges within a national park when the closure took effect were given 48 hours to make other arrangements and leave.

Some didn't get the chance to enter.

Al Valerio had driven to Joshua Tree with his wife, only to find the national park closed to visitors Tuesday.

"They need to think about the people. Not themselves," he said.

PHOTOS: Government shutdown closes national parks

Lodges and cabins at Yosemite National Park that would normally be filled to near capacity this weekend will be closed by the shutdown.

Hikers, bikers and horseback riders will be able to access some areas, only to be blocked from others in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. That's because the popular destination is dotted with ownership stakes claimed by every level of government, universities and private property owners. 

"We're very porous," said Kate Kuykendall, a spokeswoman for the area. "It will not be a seamless experience."

Full coverage: The U.S. government shutdown

Across the nation, popular destinations were closed to the public, including the Statue of Liberty, and Independence National Historical Park, home of the Liberty Bell. Nineteen Smithsonian museums and galleries, 401 national parks and attractions, and two dozen American-run overseas military cemeteries closed immediately.

DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite, which maintains more than 1,000 lodging rooms inside the park, was working to notify thousands of guests of the shutdown. 

About 800,000 federal employees were sent home Tuesday. Analysts say the shutdown means a reduction in collective American income of about $200 million per day.  And communities near national parks are expected to lose $76 million a day in visitor spending.

But there were other local effects Tuesday. 

Officials for the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that their investigation into the crash of a private jet Sunday evening in Santa Monica has been suspended due to the federal government shutdown.

The agency, however, is recovering the wreckage of the Cessna Citation 525 and moving it to a secure site, where it will be stored until the investigation can resume.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles city and county officials said the shutdown would not have a major effect on public services, at least initially. But a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti's office said a prolonged shutdown could affect job training, public safety, road repair, housing and other important services that recieve federal funds.


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