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Shutting National Parks No Fun For Rangers Or Visitors

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network

The effects of the partial federal government shutdown are rippling across the Northwest.

About 1,000 federally-funded Oregon National Guard members received furlough notices Tuesday. Same for 850 Washington National Guardsmen and another 850 from Idaho.

Meanwhile, guests at hotels and campgrounds inside national parks have been told to leave by Thursday.

Large national parks like Mount Rainier are keeping skeleton crews on duty to maintain roads and historic buildings and redirect visitors. Mount Rainier park spokeswoman Patti Wold says it's no fun turning everyone away - cars, bikers and hikers.

"We're here to serve the public and we're not being allowed to do that," she says. "So it is very hard for all of us to not be able to have people come to this beautiful park and enjoy the public lands that they cherish."

German tourist Julian Schere and his group of three travelling companions took the first day of the government shutdown in stride. It became an excuse to skip a hike in the fog and rain. But he says the mood could sour if this drags on.

"Today it's not that big of a disappointment," Schere says. "But tomorrow for Mount St. Helens and for the other national parks it will be, yeah definitely."

Schere says his group's plan was to tour Western parks from Rainier down through Crater Lake and the Redwoods, but that's now in doubt.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.