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Confusion reigns over how keeping NPs open during shutdown would work; veteran rangers worried

During the 21-day government shutdown of 1995-1996, an enormous blizzard left up to three feet of snow in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park—and no one was there to shovel the parking lots. But that was the least of Bill Wade’s problems. The park’s superintendent at the time, Wade knew that several campers had entered the Shenandoah backcountry before the shutdown. “They were caught back there, and we couldn’t get to them because we had limited staff,” he recalled. “Fortunately we didn’t have any injuries or fatalities, but it could have been a real situation.”

It would have been far worse if visitors had been allowed into Shenandoah during the shutdown, Wade said. The snowstorm hit several days after the shutdown, meaning only a few campers who had entered beforehand were still remaining in the park. If the park had remained open, how many more campers would have been stuck in the snow? Would the limited staff have been able to ensure everyone’s safety?



1-906-281-3984   |   dhec@davidharmon.us