Shutdown Hits Home: Castillo de San Marcos and Ft. Matanzas Among Parks Off Limits
FlaglerLive | October 2, 2013
Starting Tuesday, the National Park Service closed all 401 national parks, including Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments in St. Augustine. All visitor facilities are closed. The park will remain closed until the government reopens.
So will every national park website: federal officials claim that because maintenance will not be performed on the sites, they must be shut down–a seemingly gratuitous , or at least capricious, example of the shutdown at work: individual park sites’ home pages are not accessible, but the Department of the Interior’s website is still accessible, though it’s not being updated. NPS.gov has more than 750,000 pages and 91 million unique visitors a year.
Healthcare.gov, The government’s website that went online Tuesday to enable people to apply for insurance, in line with the Affordable Health Act, has been functioning, but fitfully, from being overloaded.
Other federally supported programs, such as the Women Infant and Children program administered through the Flagler County Health Department in Bunnell, may be affected–but not yet: Patrick Johnson, the health department director, said WIC, though entirely federally funded, was still operating this week. It averages 50 customers a day in Flagler County.
All national park programs and special events have been canceled, including cannon and musket firing demonstrations and the Castillo by Candlelight evening program that was scheduled for October 19, should the closure remains in place through that date.
Castillo de San Marcos hosts 1,200 visitors on average each day in 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.
Between the two National Monuments in St. Augustine, 36 employees are on furlough because of the shutdown and another four Eastern National employees who operate the bookstore inside the fort are similarly affected. A number of employees remain on duty, providing security and emergency services.
Nationwide the shutdown has furloughed more than 20,000 National Park Service employees. About 3,000 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 12,000 park concessions employees are also affected.
The last federal government shutdowns go back to 1995 and 1996. A five-day shut-down took place between Nov. 13 and 19, and a 21-day shut-down stretched between Dec. 15 and Jan. 6, 1996.
Some examples of affected activities in previous shut-downs:
New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical center, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance. Hotline calls to NIH concerning
diseases were not answered.
Delays occurred in the processing of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Work on more than 3,500 bankruptcy cases reportedly was suspended. Cancellation of the recruitment and testing of federal lawenforcement officials reportedly occurred, including the hiring of 400 border patrol agents. Delinquent child-support cases were delayed.
Approximately 20,000 to30,000 applications by foreigners
for visas reportedly went unprocessed each day, affecting tourism and tourim revenue for states that depend on it for their economy, such as Florida. Some 200,000 U.S. applications for passports reportedly went unprocessed. U.S. tourist industries and airlines reportedly sustained millions of dollars in losses.