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#39936 - 10/08/13 08:34 PM The Government Shutdown and the National Parks
James Morrissey Offline
I
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/11/05
Loc: Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey interviews Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles of the Office of Public Affairs at Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway about the impacts of the Government shutdown.





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#39937 - 10/08/13 08:35 PM Re: The Government Shutdown and the Parks [Re: James Morrissey]
James Morrissey Offline
I
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/11/05
Loc: Manhattan, New York, New York
In advance of this interview, I would like to thank Ms Anzelmo-Sarles, of the National Park Service, for taking the time to answer my questions.

JM: Can you share a bit about the impact this has had on every day people who work for the National Parks Service? i.e. how many people are now (essentially) unemployed working in Grand Teton National Park?

JA: On October 1, Grand Teton National Park (GTNP or GRTE) and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (JODR or JDR) employed about 240 employees. 82% or about 200 of those employees were furloughed. About 40 park staff remain on duty for law enforcement, emergency services, resource and boundary protection, and critical infrastructure maintenance.

A shutdown is not somethings that is easy for us to do. It is devastating to morale. It is not something that any member of the National Park Service is wired to do. It is our nature to welcome and bring people into the parks. It is a crushing experience for those employees put on furlough.


JM: What has been the impact upon the Park Concessionaires? How many people have had to be let go as a result of the shut down?

JA: A shutdown has a significant financial blow to concessioners operating in National Parks and to local businesses. In 2012, Grand Teton National Park had the most significant "economic benefit" of any National Park in the nation with the exception of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennesee. Grand Teton generated $436 million in economic revenue to local communities and supported nearly 6,400 jobs in those communities.

Editor's Note: **When I was at Signal Mountain Lodge, I had the opportunity to speak with a manager on duty who told me that Jackson Lake Lodge employed about 800 people, most of which being seasonal employees. I am told that the majority were told that they had to vacate within 48 hours, though some employees were able to stay if they had no way out of the Park or were able to work on other projects for the concessionaire. I can only imagine the financial burden this was to the various students and other wage earners who do this once in a life time opportunity to see the Parks.**


JM: Do you know the financial impacts this has had on the larger eco-system, such as Jackson Hole?

JA: I do not have specific numbers. I would suggest reaching out to the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. **Editor's Note, I have reached out to the Jackson Hole and West Yellowstone Chambers of Commerce and will post more about this if they are able to answer. **

JM: How many people staying in the Park on vacation were told that they had to find new accommodations during the 48 hour notice?

JA: There were over 500 reservations for October 1 in Grand Teton National Park. The total number of people is unknown to me, but its safe to assume well over 1,000.

JM: Do we know how many people are being turned around since the park closure?

JA: Unknown. **Editor's Note: According to the National Park Service, Grand Teton National Park had approximately 2.6 million visitors in 2011. Most of these visits occur during the Spring through Fall seasons.

JM: I have heard reports of some parks having problems with vandalism since the closure. Have you had problems with vandalism/break-ins as a result of the closure?

JA: For the most part people have been understanding. There is still a small percentage of people who are lashing out at park rangers staffing closures and actively violating closures.We still have law enforcement staff working. They are paroling the boundary and enforcing closures to ensure the park resources, that make this park unique and for which it was set aside as one of just over 50 National Parks in the country, are protected.

JM: How many special events (such as weddings) have been canceled in the Park as a result of this?


JA: I do not know, but I know it is several.


JM: I have heard of some local municipalities talking about opening up and funding 'their' national parks. Is that really feasible? Or, is that just hype?

JA: We have received very clear guidance that the government is closed and we cannot accept donations or 3rd party assistance. Its simply not feasible.

JM: What can lovers of the Parks do to help out?

JA: Park lovers can help us by respecting closure and respecting the people who have to enforce those closures. This is a very difficult and frustrating time for all of us so we really appreciate those people who help us by not making a difficult situation more difficult.

Parks were given very little discretion in how to implement shutdown plans. Decision to close were not made by park management. The staff you see out there have absolutely no decision making power or discretion in implementing these closures- they are simply doing their jobs.

**********
_________________________
Manhattan, New York, NY Pet Photographer


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#39938 - 10/08/13 09:55 PM Re: The Government Shutdown and the Parks [Re: James Morrissey]
James Morrissey Offline
I
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/11/05
Loc: Manhattan, New York, New York
JM: Before concluding this article, I would like to take a moment and bring everyone's attention to a peer-reviewed spending analysis of national park visitors across the country conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park Service. This shows the impacts of the National Parks at the macro level. For 2011, that report shows $13 billion of direct spending by 279 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. That visitor spending had a $30 billion impact on the entire U.S. economy and supported 252,000 jobs nationwide. The National parks are ranked eighth among America’s top domestic travel destinations according to Forbes. A recent article (dated 2/25/13) on the Department of Interior website on the economic engine of the National Parks can be found here: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/na...252000-jobs.cfm

I am a big supporter of the National Parks. My love of the national parks, and particularly Grand Teton and Yellowstone, has been one of the catalysts of this forum. I was devastated when the park closed during our annual pilgrimage. It is a family trip that we all look forward to each year.

I realize that it is comparatively small compared to the many small businesses, government employees and visitors who are currently being impacted by its closure. I hope that if we all call and make it known to our local politicians that this is not OK that we can all help make this end - sooner - rather than later.
_________________________
Manhattan, New York, NY Pet Photographer


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#39959 - 10/23/13 09:41 PM Re: The Government Shutdown and the Parks [Re: James Morrissey]
James Morrissey Offline
I
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/11/05
Loc: Manhattan, New York, New York
In a news article dated Tuesday 10/22/13, the actual cost of the 16 day shut down was tabulated. According to The Washington Times, the actual costs were close to 2.2 billion dollars. While the parks/monuments make up less than 1% of the federal budget, they are seen to be large economic engines for states.

Please feel free to read the following article that talks more in depth.

Government shutdown cost states $2.2B, study reveals
http://communities.washingtontimes.com/n...-study-reveals/
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Manhattan, New York, NY Pet Photographer


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