Tourists And Business Welcome Reopened National Parks
National Parks are reopening after the government shutdown. Many visitors and nearby businesses had been frustrated that Washington's inability to reach a budget deal had also meant the ruin of vacations and the loss of tourism business.
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After 16 days, the federal government reopened today, and with it the country's National Parks. NPR's Nathan Rott was at the northern entrance to Yellowstone and sent this report.
NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: The Roosevelt Arch is a structure that says a lot. Fifty feet tall, made of cobbled stones and etched across it are these words: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People. Well for 16 days, there was another sign, posted underneath it. It read: Closed, Government Shutdown, No visitor access. That was, until early this morning.
Well, I'm standing just underneath the Roosevelt Arch, right next to this barricade. It's snowing, just a little bit. I can see a pair of headlights cutting down towards me from what appears to be some sort of bulldozer.
(SOUNDBITE OF BULLDOZER)
ROTT: How you doing?
TOM CUNNINGHAM: Pretty good, you?
CUNNINGHAM: Damn glad this thing is over with.
ROTT: Tom Cunningham works for Yellowstone's maintenance crews. He's picking up a row of orange plastic cones and taking down white plastic fencing.
(SOUNDBITE OF A BULLDOZER)
ROTT: And the bulldozer lifts the large concrete barricade.
CUNNINGHAM: Back to work.
ROTT: Back to work. That's the motto here in northern Yellowstone. At the Park's offices at Mammoth Hot Springs, a herd of elk munch on grass between buildings - a bull bugling at the onslaught of sudden traffic.
(SOUNDBITE OF AN ELK)
ROTT: Inside the admin building, Al Nash is busy taking phone calls.
AL NASH: Thank you, bye-bye.
ROTT: Welcome back.
NASH: Thank you very much.
NASH: It is nice to be able to tell people that Yellowstone is open to visitors.
ROTT: Nash says the park plans to stay that way until winter hits, which is good news for employees like him and for the nearby communities and their businesses.
NASH: The fact that we weren't able to host visitors in Yellowstone certainly had a significant economic impact on those communities.
ROTT: And you see that in towns like Gardiner, just outside the Roosevelt Arch.
Gale Jordan works at a Western outfitting and clothing store right across the street from the park's entrance. She said that when the government shut down, business stopped like a door had been closed.
GALE JORDAN: Feast or famine around here, and when they help push you into the famine zone it's not a good thing.
ROTT: She says that business has already started to pick up. But those 16 days hurt. And the idea etched on the nearby arch - that parks are for the benefit of the people - well, she says the shutdown proved that the same can't be said for the federal government.
CORNISH: Nathan Rott, NPR News, Gardiner, Montana. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.View this story on npr.org