It now appears a lease with the federal government is only as good as the President occupying the White House. From an 18th century living history farm in Virginia to campgrounds in Arizona, the federal government is forcing private operators close down simply because their facilities are on land owned by the federal government. The inconvenienced customers are being told this is part of the government shutdown even though prior shutdowns never affected these facilities.
How stupid is this? These operations cost the federal government nothing to maintain and most often pay a percentage of their gross fees back to the federal government in return for their concession to operate on federally owned land.
Who is doing is this? The Park District employees outside the WWII Memorial said their instructions came from the OMB. The US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture officials who own the land the campgrounds are on told the owner
....they are shutting down the privately run, revenue-generating parks "to be consistent with the National Park Service."
The federal government has even barricaded a bus turnaround on a federal parkway outside of Mount Vernon. George Washington's home has been sustained by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, a private organization that predates the founding of the National Park Service in 1872 by two decades. The barricade makes life more difficult for those visitors to the area whose tour includes a bus trip to MT. Vernon.
Then there are the barricades on remote trails in national parks, trails that are not regularly patrolled by Park Service employees.
The common factor here is that none of these facilities require any ongoing service and maintenance by the federal government, which has stated it is closing non-essential facilities precisely to minimize such costs. The closures of these facilities, do, however, needlessly inconvenience a great many people.
Here are two pictures from a parking lot in Smoky Mountain National Park.
Note how the barricade cones were placed at the trail head on October 1. All day Tuesday barricades went up on remote roads and trails in Smoky Mountain National Park. Robert Zimmerman of the site Behind the Black took those photos. Here is his statement .
More Americans have to follow the lead of these veterans. The time has come for some courageous defiance by everyone. For example, we plan to go hiking one more time while we are here, on Thursday. If the shutdown is still in place, I intend to remove those cones and park my car and go hiking. Since a park ranger has already told me they will not be providing any service in the park, what will they do? They won't be there to stop us.
Zimmerman notes the dedication plaque at this trail head, which states the park exists "For the permanent enjoyment of the people." I have neighbors whose family members were evicted from hard earned homesteads so that people in America's urban areas could enjoy a look at nature this National Park. Now ordinary, law abiding people are unnecessarily being denied access as a form of political street theater because it seems that under this administration everything is for the permanent aggrandizement of Obama and his minions in the federal bureaucracy.
This is going to backfire on both the White House and also on a national media that gave extensive coverage to the uncouth thugs of Occupy Wall Street when they trashed public parks all around the nation while this government silently applauded. The national media may attempt to place all the blame on Republicans, but those who operate and use these facilities know that is a lie, Nor are they staying silent about it. These unnecessary closures, the heavy handed tactics being used against the private contractors and the disruption needlessly created by the White House are big stories around the nation and the blame is being placed on the executive branch.
Note: For readers concerned about the grammar of our headline, it is a pop culture reference:
Here is an update from Behind the Black.
The closure in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is doing great harm to the tourist business in Tennessee and North Carolina. It seems the governors of those states should be moving forward to help their citizens, rather than cooperating with the Obama administration's efforts to punish them.
Meanwhile, I have been forced to make a personal strategic decision, mostly for my family. We had planned on Thursday to push the cones out of the way and go hiking on one of these trails. However, there are barricades, not cones, now at these trailheads. My wife is understandably worried that our car might get towed, or blocked in, because of this.
So, we still plan to hike in Great Smoky National Park, but we have chosen a trail where we can park outside the park on private land and then hike into the park. We intend to defy any ranger we meet who tries to stop us, but by not putting a vehicle in a vulnerable position under their control, we give them less power over us in such circumstances.
Finally, I want to make one more point. This is the United States of America, supposedly "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Yet, in my essay above I describe how American citizens are either hiding from or protecting themselves from agents of our government, even though they have done nothing wrong. When I was growing up such behavior was unthinkable. Not only was no one afraid of the federal government, if a federal agent or federal elected official tried to impose such restrictions on Americans they knew they would be in big trouble, almost instantly. Thus, they were very careful to respect the rights of the citizens, and such oppressive behavior was rare.
Today, however, such behavior is becoming common. And it carries no bad consequences for the government and officials who do it. One would think this was the Soviet Union, not America.
We should all be ashamed. And we should all be enraged at President Obama for encouraging this to happen.
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has pushed back when the federal government tried to close lands where both the state and federal authorities have jurisdiction.
The state Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday refused a directive from the National Park Service to close a host of popular state properties because of the federal government shutdown.
The park service ordered state officials to close the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine, Devil's Lake, and Interstate state parks and the state-owned portion of the Horicon Marsh, but state authorities rebuffed the request because the lion's share of the funding came from state, not federal coffers.