Travelers who crossed the world to see the wonders of Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks, only to be greeted by closure gates.
Vacationers who could gaze out the windows of their lodgings onto the flanks of Mount Rainier, or into the florid forests of Shenandoah National Park, told to pack up and leave in 48 hours.
Gateway communities and businesses large and small that make their livelihoods around the grandeur of national parks being asked for refunds and to cancel reservations.
Tens of thousands of workers, both federally and locally employed, cast aside as pawns caught up in a dispute that shouldn’t have taken root.
Concessionaires are reticent to discuss the financial blow they’re taking, but it can only be considered significant.
“The impact is significant to our business in the national parks. Even more troubling is the potential loss of income to thousands of the company’s employees who work in our national park operations,” said one. “Also, the shutdown is impacting numerous businesses in the gateway regions of national parks in addition to companies that operate in the parks.”
The arrogance of Congress in managing the fiscal affairs of the United States is withering and shameful. For a body once viewed as august, the partisan bickering on display should bring pause not only to those who elected them but even to those who sit in the halls of Congress.
The need to either pass an appropriations package for fiscal 2014, or a continuing resolution, didn’t arise in the past week, or the past month. That the Congress took its August recess with this pressing matter unresolved is unconscionable. To come back for townhall meetings and hear constituents plead with them to keep government afloat and the national parks open, only to forget those requests, is beyond shameful.
“It’s not the people blaming the National Park Service. The National Park Service did not do this. They cannot be blamed for this. Our congressmen who are still getting their paychecks can be blamed for this,” said Marian DeLay, executive director of the Moab (Utah) Area Travel Council.
Whether you agree with the Rasmussen Reports’ finding that just 7 percent of likely voters think Congress is doing a “good or excellent” job, or Gallup’s latest report that 76 percent of the public disapprove of the job our elected senators and representatives are doing, the politicians’ seeming disregard of those numbers is contemptible.
“If they’re operating under the illusion that they’re pleasing people. ... I don’t know who that is,” Marysue Costello, executive director of the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday after trying to explain to visitors from Australia why they couldn’t stand before Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.
In Arizona, a family from Japan that had traveled across the world to stand in awe before the grandest canyon in the world was stopped short as the gates to Grand Canyon National Park came down early Tuesday. Bus tours carrying visitors from Germany and Canada pulled into Moab, Utah, only to learn Arches and Canyonlands national parks were closed.
Is this how we greet the world?
Yosemite National Park celebrated its 123rd birthday on Oct. 1, and its “present” was closure.
Is this how we celebrate “America’s Best Idea?”
Let those who stand in the way of resolving the impasse return home and stand in front of their constituents and say they acted in the country’s best interests.