Federal Shutdown Would Close National Parks

National parks would close along with the government if there's a shutdown. NPR's Greg Allen visits the Everglades National Park.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

First, let's take a listen to NPR's Greg Allen on the National Parks.

GREG ALLEN: There 394 National Parks that drew nearly 300 million visitors last year. If there's no budget deal, they will all be closed Saturday. At Everglades National Park in South Florida, Shark Valley is the destination for visitors from around the world. There aren't any sharks here, but there are lots of birds and alligators, especially in winter and spring, the dry season.

Many visitors take a two-hour tram tour of this part of the park. On this tram, the tour guide is George Johnson.

Mr. GEORGE JOHNSON (Tour Guide, Shark Valley, Everglades National Park): I want to introduce you to your first alligator.

ALLEN: About a million people visit Everglades National Park each year. And on this day, everyone I talked to was disappointed to hear the park may close temporarily if there's a government shutdown.

Chris Kruid(ph), visiting from Bozeman, Montana, had a suggestion to improve the budget negotiations.

Ms. CHRIS KRUID: I think that they should get all of our government officials into the National Parks and hold their meetings here, and it would definitely change their idea about shutting them down. It is so gorgeous here. I think it would be criminal to remove this access to our natural resources and all of its beauty.

ALLEN: Bill Reach(ph), a visitor from the Florida Keys, said he supports efforts to reduce the deficit, but not if it means shutting the parks even temporarily.

Mr. BILL REID: I think we have to do something about spending. But I also think we have to do something about revenue, and I think there's a balance. You know, we have to do what benefits the most people across the board, not just the powerful people and the rich people. And you won't see any rich people out here today, and that's one reason why this will be closed and other things will be open.

ALLEN: Today at the park, there were visitors from France, Switzerland, Belgium and a few groups from Wisconsin, a state that's had its own high-profile confrontation over the budget.

When I asked Wisconsinite Tom Kriofsky(ph) which party he thought would shoulder most of the blame if there's a shutdown, he confidently said the Republicans.

Mr. TOM KRIOFSKY: Well, yes, because the Republicans are having enough trouble agreeing among themselves. Yeah, they're going to be to blame if it happens.

ALLEN: Tom Hutton(ph) of Miami doesn't want to see the park closed but noted budget negotiators have a dilemma.

Mr. TOM HUTTON: I don't know how you get people to move in the right direction without maybe causing some pain.

ALLEN: If there's no budget deal, the pain will start at the National Parks on Saturday.

Greg Allen, NPR news, Miami.

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