Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

No hiking: Government shut down would literally close National Lakeshore

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If Congress is unable to reach a budget deal by 11:59 p.m. today, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will close.

It actually will close.

National Park Service (NPS) spokesperson Lynda Lancaster told the Chesterton Tribune today that, while the majority of NPS personnel at the National Lakeshore would be furloughed under a government shut-down, rangers necessary “for the protection of life and property” would not be.

“And if they see you out there, on the trails or at the beach, they will ask you to leave,” Lancaster said. “Because the park is closed.”

“There’ll be people watching the buildings, making sure the park is closed,” Lancaster added. “Of course, we do remain hopeful that the government will not shut down but we are making preparations.”

Specifically, under a government shut-down, all parking lots at the National Lakeshore would be closed, all restroom facilities locked, the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm placed off limits, and the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education in Miller shuttered and all scheduled weekend activities there canceled.

Portage Lakefront Park, West Beach, and Mt. Baldy would similarly be closed and their gates locked.

The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center would not be closed—because the building is owned by the Porter County Commissioners—but no NPS personnel would be on hand to staff it.

The Dunewood Campground at the National Lakeshore would be closed as well but the U.S. Department of Interior has instructed NPS to give campers there 48 hours to make alternate arrangements. In other words, campers there at 11:59 p.m. today would have until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday to leave.

In the absence of a last-minute budget deal, Lancaster noted, the “government will simply run out of funds and it’s illegal for federal agencies to spend money if there’s no appropriated funds.” Hence the potential shutdown.

Federal employees tasked to the “protection of life and property” would be exempted from furlough, and in the event of an emergency on National Lakeshore property, folks should call (800) PARK-TIP for assistance, Lancaster said.

How long would it take to close the National Lakeshore? “We’ve been given four hours,” Lancaster noted. “If there is a shut-down, four hours would probably be sufficient to open the park back up again when it’s over.”

A reminder: Indiana Dunes State Park—State Park—would be unaffected by any federal government shut-down.


Posted 4/8/2011






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