National parks across the country, including the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, are now closed because members of Congress failed to reach an agreement on a government funding bill.
The failure to reach an agreement on the budget means—among other things—401 national parks are shut down indefinitely, Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, said.
The federal government shutdown means about 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed. That includes about 21,000 National Park Service staff.
Locally, at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park—which is the largest and oldest and has portions in Chattanooga and Northwest Georgia—26 employees have been furloughed, park officials said.
Four employees are working to perform safety and security functions seven days a week.
Park officials expect to lose $24,000 in fees collected at Point Park in the month of October.
Nonprofit park association, called Eastern National, is expected to lose about $44,000 in sales while visitor centers are closed, park officials also said.
Upcoming events may have to be canceled, including:
— A four-day symposium scheduled for October 9-12 for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Park officials have been coordinating with city and state leaders for more than a year to host the event.
The cancelation means that 1,700 elementary and middle school students might not be able to attend educational programs scheduled during the event.
— Dedication event scheduled for Oct. 26 for the Federal Road tract .
— Park staff will not be able to support the Moccasin Bend Lecture Series Oct. 28 and Nov. 18 coordinated through Friends of Moccasin Bend Inc.
— Nov. 23-27 150th commemorative events of the Battles for Chattanooga will be cancelled.
“The government shutdown has forced the National Park Service to close park entrances, visitor centers, campgrounds, bathrooms, concession stands, and other park facilities," Pierno said in a prepared statement. "Education programs and special events have been canceled, permits issued for special activities rescinded, hotels and campgrounds emptied and entrances secured."
October is a busy time for parks, officials said.
The loss of more than 750,000 daily visitors from around the world who typically visit national parks in October may cost local communities as much as $30 million each day the national parks are closed, Pierno also said.
Locally, work has stopped on the opening of the Federal Road tract on Moccasin Bend including installation of interpretive signage.
All park areas are closed except for commuter travel on Lafayette Road, Reed’s Bridge Road, and McFarland Gap Road. Secondary roads, reservations, picnic areas, and restrooms are also closed.
Point Park is closed.
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