A group of senior citizens visiting Yellowstone Park were ordered to stay in their hotel and were kept there by armed US Forest Rangers when they were inside the park when the government shutdown began on October 1. This is just the latest of numerous incidents around the country where US Forest Service employees have harassed the very people who pay them.
According to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune a local woman, Pat Vallincourt of Salisbury, MA was part of a tour group traveling though the western part of the country visiting the natural wonders of the area. According to Vallincourt they arrived at Yellowstone Park the day the government shutdown began and were told they could not leave their hotel.
The incident started when they were driving through the park and stopped to view a herd of buffalo. The group of senior citizens got off the bus and began to take pictures of the bison. On a local radio show, The Michael Graham Show, Vallincourt said they were quickly approached by an armed park ranger who told them they were not allowed to take pictures and had to get back on the bus. When the tour guide politely asked why they were told they “were recreating” and that wasn’t allowed. She went on to say that when they got back to their hotel, “The Old Faithful Inn” they were not allowed to take pictures of the “Old Faithful” geyser except from the second floor of the hotel. There were armed guards stopping them from exiting the hotel and patrolling the grounds throughout the night.
Since the shutdown began on October 1, there have been numerous reports of US Park Rangers harassing US citizens at various locations throughout the country. The most notable was when a group of WWII veterans were denied access to the WWII memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. With the help of several Congressmen they removed the barricades and entered the grounds to view the monuments. After not allowing the veterans to see the memorial, the National Park Service is allowing a protest by advocates of immigration to hold a rally and concert at the National Mall.
Throughout the country the US Forest Service has been closing roads, not allowing people to stop and take pictures, closing private businesses and even removing people from their own homes if they are surrounded by National Park Service land. The group of elderly tourists in Yellowstone Park weren’t even allowed to stop at a privately owned bathroom in their two and a half hour ride out of the park. The owner of one such place was threatened with the revocation of his license to operate in the park if he allowed the bus to stop there.
On October 3, the Washington Times reported:
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
This ranger was referring to their closing of the parking lots around Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home which is run by a private group. By closing the parking lots visitors could not get to the site.
Is this a case of the Obama administration trying to force the Republican Party to pass the continuing resolution without any strings attached? Are they picking and choosing what to open and close targeting the most visible symbols of the United States in an attempt at getting some good public relations? If so it doesn’t appear to be working.
In a poll taken by CNN/ORC International 63% of the respondents are blaming the Republicans for the shutdown while 57% say they are angry at the Democrats. There was some overlap as some people responded they were angry at both. Fifty three percent also said they were angry at President Obama and the way he is handling the situation. This is in line with several other polls taken since the shutdown began.
As the shutdown wears on there is sure to be more backlash at everyone in Congress if the situation isn’t dealt with soon.
Written by: Paul Roy