Shutdown Hurts Parkgoers and Local Businesses

The National Parks–Yellowstone, Yosemite, Great Smokey Mountains and all the rest—are shutting down, along with much of the government, because what Politico called a “hard-line faction of House GOP lawmakers” can’t accept the results of the last election or the fact that Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act. They are carrying obstructionism to a disastrous new low.

This is a personal nuisance, since my wife and I planned a seven-night stay in Yellowstone that would have started Saturday night. Luckily, we checked ahead and learned that, as this Q and A from Bloomberg News recounts, everyone will be kicked out of the park, vacation be damned!

“Q. What about my trip to Yellowstone?

A. You’re out of luck. According to the Interior Department’s shutdown contingency plan: “All areas of the National Park and National Wildlife Refuge Systems would be closed and public access would be restricted.”

So we canceled our flight to Salt Lake City, which hurts the cab driver who would have driven us to the airport and hurts American Airlines and its employees, as well as restaurant and concession employees at the airports in Washington, DC, Denver, and Salt Lake City. We canceled our rental car. We canceled our reservation at a hotel in Ogden, Utah. And we canceled seven nights at hotels and inns in the park, which hurts them and the restaurants at which we would have eaten. We won’t hire a fishing guide or pay for a photo safari in the park. And we won’t stay at a hotel in Salt Lake City next weekend or hire a cabbie to drive us home from National Airport. You can add it up: It’s a loss to business of thousands of dollars from just one couple.

I’m told that this is the busiest season for the busiest park in the country, Great Smokey Mountain, and now thousands of potential visitors will stay home, just like my wife and me. Hundreds of businesses large and small will lose sales. When you add up all the National Parks in the country, many of which are major tourist destinations, you can see that the spiteful congressmen who are shutting down the government are causing tens of millions of dollars of losses to businesses in just this one small area of government function. It’s such a stupid waste.