The Norman Transcript


October 15, 2013

Shutdown goes beyond obvious



The shutdowns were an epic failure sparking bitter political backlash, yet here we are again.

Near Florida City the main road entrance to the park is blocked, while rangers in boats patrol the marine boundaries.

Trespassing on government property (or waters) during the shutdown is punishable by six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine, although as of midweek nobody had been arrested or even ticketed.

There are other places in the Upper and Middle Keys to go fishing, but none with the Everglades’ abundance of snook, redfish and tarpon, species prized by backcountry anglers.

OK, so a couple hundred fishing guides from Naples to Marathon have to suck it up while the political stalemate festers for a while longer. Hey, it’s better than closing down the Defense Department or the VA, right?

But here’s who else is getting screwed while the parks are shut down and the tourists stay away: Owners of all the nearby hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, bars, marinas, grocery stores, tackle shops and gas stations, and everybody employed by them. Mechanics, maids, bartenders, waiters, cooks, checkout clerks, ordinary folks who’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve this. They don’ work for the government but they’ve effectively been downgraded to “non-essential.”

The sad story in the Keys is repeating itself in small towns such as Gardiner, Mont., the northern gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and Tusayan, Ariz., at the South Rim entrance to the Grand Canyon.

Also off limits (at least on paper) is Biscayne National Park, a prime swath of Biscayne Bay. Good luck enforcing that during the Columbus Day regatta.

Ironically, no place has been spanked harder by the parks’ shutdown than Washington, D.C., where the economy depends on millions of tourists coming to the national monuments and free museums, now closed to the public.

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