Great Smoky Mountains preparing for possible government shutdown

Great Smoky Mountains officials preparing for possible government shutdown

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The possibility of a government shutdown Tuesday means campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, visitor centers, and trail heads will be closed at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The possibility of a government shutdown Tuesday means campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, visitor centers, and trail heads will be closed at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"Emergency personnel and law enforcement rangers will remain in the park to protect park resources and also assist in emergency situations if they were to occur. Other employees will be furloughed," said spokesperson Molly Schroer. "Emergency personnel and law enforcement rangers will remain in the park to protect park resources and also assist in emergency situations if they were to occur. Other employees will be furloughed," said spokesperson Molly Schroer.
"I think folks are going to go through with their plans, I really do. I think we can accommodate campers in area campgrounds and the hotels," said Marci Claude spokesperson for Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. "I think folks are going to go through with their plans, I really do. I think we can accommodate campers in area campgrounds and the hotels," said Marci Claude spokesperson for Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Weddings and special events at the Great Smoky Mountains could also be canceled as of midnight Tuesday. Weddings and special events at the Great Smoky Mountains could also be canceled as of midnight Tuesday.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - If Congress is unable to pass a budget bill before Tuesday morning's mid night deadline, leading to a government shutdown, national parks like the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee will be impacted.

Officials there say a shutdown couldn't come at a worse time for them, but they do have a plan. October is one of the biggest months for the Great Smoky Mountains because nearly one million people visit.

A hike through the Smoky Mountains attracted the Durbins all the way from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but the couple says they're happy they arrived when they did.

"It would be like going to Disneyland and finding out it's shut down for repair. It's just a beautiful park and should not be on the list to shut down," said Denny Durbin.

While the national park was flourishing Monday, park officials are preparing for the worst. The possibility of a government shutdown Tuesday means campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, visitor centers, and trail heads will be closed.

"In the park, Newfound Gap Road, which runs from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, N.C. will remain open. Our Gatlinburg Bypass area will remain open, as well as the road that runs from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge known as the spur," said park spokesperson Molly Schroer.

The number of employees working would be cut from 300 to 45.

"Emergency personnel and law enforcement rangers will remain in the park to protect park resources and also assist in emergency situations if they were to occur. Other employees will be furloughed," added Schroer.

Anyone currently staying at the park will be asked to leave. Those who have trips booked will be notified if the park is closed.

With the park facing potential shutdown, visitors bureau officials say the impact on tourism dollars in Gatlinburg would be minimal.

"I think folks are going to go through with their plans, I really do. I think we can accommodate campers in area campgrounds and the hotels," said Marci Claude spokesperson for Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

However, those "what ifs" won't be a reality until midnight.

"We're hoping something will be resolved and there won't be a shutdown, but we are going to make plans just in case," said Schroer.

Weddings and special events at the Great Smoky Mountains could be canceled as of midnight Tuesday. Park officials say 27 weddings are planned for the first two weeks of October.

To help offset the possible impact of campgrounds closing, the Gatlinburg Visitors Bureau is assisting in finding accommodations. You can call 1-800-568-4748 to find new lodging or visit their website.

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