The ongoing U.S. Government shutdown has, in my view, been implemented in some ways that seem to be excessive – and intentional. As an angry National Park Service Ranger said, according to the Washington Times, “It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation.” and “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
Even in west central Arkansas, open access federal properties have been “closed” and barricaded. Today, on a drive to Petit Jean State Park, we took some short detours to see how the shutdown is being implemented locally.
At Bona Dea trails in Russellville, two traffic barrels had been set up in the parking lot, with yellow warning tape between them. This afternoon, when we got there, we saw that the tape was broken and the barrels moved to the side, with vehicles parked in the lot, their occupants probably out using the trails.
At the entrance to the trail system, barricades blocked the path. A young couple was reading the posted closure notice, which read in part: “… the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed all Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks nationwide as a result of the federal government shutdown.”
The young couple apparently decided to “follow the rules” as they got in their vehicle and left, but shortly after that, a another individual walked around the barricade and headed out on the trail system.
Other federal facilities we stopped at were similarly closed. Old Post Road Park, also operated by the Corps, was closed, though access was open through it to the Dardanelle Lock and Dam. The gate was closed at Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge operated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
I understand that this shutdown is very frustrating for the federal workers who have been furloughed. It’s putting many of them, those who live from paycheck to paycheck, in a difficult situation. However, those who are furloughed will, in all probability, be paid for the days they have been off from work.
Some of what has been done with this shutdown almost seems to me to be malicious and petty. I can understand closing federal parks and other facilities that require personnel to be present. However, barricading open space federal properties where there is seldom or never any personnel is just unnecessary.