Published October 03, 2013
The Obama Administration is ordering hundreds of parks that sit on federal land to close amid the government shutdown -- even though they don't use any government funding.
Operators of Claude Moore Colonial Farm in Virginia, for example, say they were shocked when the National Park Service ordered their park be shut. That's because it's been 80% funded by a local non-profit for years, which agreed to take over 100% of the costs of the facility as of October 1. Still, the National Park Service spent taxpayer money to erect barricades around the park and evict everyone from the farm this week.
“We do not know why CMCF was barricaded from public access or why NPS police escorted staff and volunteers off the property right before a fundraising event on Monday. The National Park Service does not pay CMCFs employees, for its operations, maintenance, events or programs,” Claude Moore Colonial Farm Operations Manager Heather Bodin wrote in an email to FOX Business. "In our 32-year history of running the farm, through other government shutdowns, we have never had to close our doors before.”
The same is true for the more than 100 U.S. Forest Service campgrounds and day-use areas run by the Arizona-based company Recreation Resource Management.
In a letter to his congressman, RRM's owner and president Warren Meyer writes that his parks haven't been affected by past government shutdowns because "our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury."
However, Meyer says he too got orders yesterday, directly from the White House, to close up shop.
"I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy," Meyer said in his letter. "The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the U.S. Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation."
A spokeswoman for the National Park Service told MyFoxDC that it is still federal land, and the rule is that if there's no Congressional appropriation, no visitors are allowed.