ACADIA NATIONAL PARK – Acadia National Park is still open during the partial government shutdown, but park employees can’t go to work.
On Sunday, visitors continued to enjoy the park during the shutdown. The federal government’s partial shutdown started Saturday and impacts some agencies of the federal government.
During that shutdown, a skeleton crew of park rangers are on hand, but other than that, there is no one taking care of the park during the shutdown.
“We are incredibly frustrated by the situation, shutdowns are very harmful to the park no matter what time of year it is,” said David MacDonald, the president of Friends of Acadia.
Members of Friends of Acadia, an independent group that helps take care of the park, said there’s a lot of behind the scenes work during the winter months that now is not getting done.
If it snows, there will be no one to plow the roads. Trash is not being collected. Bathrooms are closed because they can’t be maintained. There’s no National Park Service provided visitor services at Acadia during the shutdown. And, according to MacDonald, it’s in the off season when park staff usually plan for the summer and conduct environmental research.
“There are people in the park who monitor the stream gauges, who monitor the culverts to make sure they don’t get backed up and that flooding and damage doesn’t happen,” said MacDonald.
The visitors our news team talked said they didn’t really notice anything different. One group visiting from New Zealand didn’t know there was a government shutdown, but said they can see how it could impact things in the long run if the park isn’t taken care of.
“That would be a shame wouldn’t it,” said visitor David Glover, “because it’s such a beautiful spot.”
Locals said while they’re used to parts of the park being closed in the winter, they won’t be able to enjoy their favorite spot if the roads aren’t plowed and ski trails aren’t maintained.
“So then there will be no cross country skiing – or groomed cross country skiing, which is my favorite activity in the winter,” said Charlotte Clews.
Visitors are happy the park is still accessible, but those who work with park staff said it’s not good for the workers.
“It has to be hard on park morale,” said MacDonald. “It sort of devalues the role they play, not to mention being furloughed and not getting a paycheck at a really important time of year.”