Special to the Claiborne Progress
October 1, 2013
Because of the shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service (NPS) has closed all 401 national parks, including Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (NHP). All visitor facilities including the park’s visitor center, the Wilderness Road Campground and roads – except for the Cumberland Gap Highway Tunnel and associated Highway 25E and County Road 988 (Sugar Run) Road – are closed. The park will remain closed until the government reopens.
Cumberland Gap’s Acting Superintendent Carol Borneman said all park visitors in the Wilderness Road Campground will be given until 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, Oct. 3, to make travel arrangements and leave the park. In addition, all park programs and special events have been canceled, including Gap Cave and Hensley Settlement tours and school programs.
Cumberland Gap hosts almost 25,000 visitors during the month of October; nationally, more than 715,000 visitors a day frequent the National Park System. Nationwide the NPS stands to lose approximately $450,000 per day in lost revenue from fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for in-park activities such as cave tours, boat rides and camping. Gateway communities across the country see about $76 million per day in total sales from visitor spending that is lost during a government shutdown. Visitors spend about $44,000,000 a year in the communities around Cumberland Gap NHP.
At Cumberland Gap, 52 employees are on furlough because of the shutdown and another five employees with non-profit park partners Cumberland Crafts and Eastern National are similarly affected. Six employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services.
Nationwide the shutdown has also furloughed more than 20,000 National Park Service employees; approximately 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concession employees are also affected.
Because it will not be maintained, the National Park Service website will be down for the duration of the shutdown. NPS.gov has more than 750,000 pages and 91 million unique visitors each year.
For updates on the shutdown, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.