Who will protect our natural resources while the government is shut-down?
Congress announced that they will be shutting down the federal government, a decision that will have a rippling effect all across the nation. And while loss of jobs and health benefits are of a major concern, so is the impact of closing our national parks.
This morning many furloughed federal employees are worrying about how they will pay their mortgage and put food on the table for their family. Organizations who depend on federal funding to help the homeless and poor are searching for ways to stay open as long they can because they know that these people have no where else to go.
What many people might not realize is that the shutting down of areas of the government like national parks which only seem to impact tourists could also have far-reaching consequences on local communities.
In the Boston area, the USS Constitution, Faneuil Hall Visitor Center, the Minute Man National Historic Park and the Acadia National Park among others have all closed down.
Today park rangers are in the process of giving overnight campers 48 hours to head home and starting to close-off trails.
One of the deputy superintendents of Acadia National Park said that he is concerned about hikers sneaking onto these closed trails and getting hurt or lost.
In Philadelphia, where many families and schools visit the historic sites, tourism will be especially hit hard. All tours and educational programs are now canceled at the Independence National Historical Park, and only a skeletal crew of law enforcement officers will remain to patrol the site.
If the shut-down continues longer than a few days, the city could lose upwards to 10,000 visitors a day in the month of October according to philly.com.
A spokesman for the National Park Service is concerned with how the closing of the parks will affect the economy. Such large loss of revenue could break an already weakened economic system.
These national parks however are more than just a money-maker. They also protect historical sites and natural resources. Because some plants and animals have trouble adapting to the changes we humans have wrought on their habitat, these national parks try to preserve the land as much as possible. The parks are essential to maintaining biodiversity and protecting endangered species.
If the federal shut-down continues for too long, we may be facing environmental as well as economic consequences. Only time will tell what the future holds.
Written By: Tracey M. Romero