Politicians have closed our parks

Because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed and National Park Service Web pages are not operating. For more information, go to http://www.doi.gov.
I saw that message last week when I tried to check the National Park Service website, the day after I attended the Battlefield Band concert on Oct. 2 at Happy Days Lodge in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Oct. 2 was the day the national parks closed, thanks to our wonderful “representatives” in Washington, D.C., but the concert went on as scheduled only because the sponsor is the Conservancy For Cuyahoga Valley, which rents the building for its Heritage Concert Series.
Happy Days Lodge is a rustic wooden building with a tall open central hall, its roof sharply peaked, and large timbers supporting the structure. It has lower, nearly horizontal ceilings over galleries on both sides of the main chamber, and its structure reminded me of a church. I think the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the lodge in the 1930s as one of the New Deal efforts to end the Depression, and a metal sculpture of a CCC worker in front of the lodge entrance seems to confirm that thought, although I can’t verify it because our national parks are shut down and the website was offline.
I have always loved national parks, and I have visited a few dozen over the years. My most recent visit was to Gettysburg, just one month ago, a trip I had wanted to make for five years and my first extended tour since 1975. It was good my nephew Brian and I went in September, good that I stamped my “Passport To Your National Parks” book, because now our national parks are closed, and CVNP rangers are asking the public to cooperate and obey the closure signs.
Sitting under the low rustic roof of the Happy Days gallery last week, I was reminded of lodges out West, such as Yellowstone, and I recalled visits to other national parks: CCC stonework along the Skyline Drive overlooks, a man from Colorado playing alphorn at one of those overlooks, hiking among the shaded spires of Bryce Canyon, and walking the road northwest of Boston where Minute Men first faced the British on April 19, 1775.
I also experienced a bit of paranoia, perhaps encourage caused by recent apocalyptic novel reading and movie watching, because it felt creepy knowing that park rangers were not out there patrolling our park. I know that essential federal personnel are still on the job, but imagine if the shutdown extended to the men and women who man our nuclear weapons, monitor other countries’ nuclear weapons, and staff our aircraft carriers, just to name a few examples. Those possibilities have only moved closer to reality in the last week and a half.
Further, our federal government funds many state and local programs, such as highways transportation and school meals, and a long shutdown would affect more than just our ability to hike the Towpath Trail or stamp our Passport book at visitor centers. It’s a shame that our people in Washington consider themselves Democrats and Republicans first and representatives second. It’s a shame that they put the needs of their parties before the needs of the country. I want my parks back.
johnw@the-review.com

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