Wednesday, October 2, 2013

There Is Something Terribly Wrong With The US Parks Service (Updated below)

Hidden a few paragraphs down in this story about the "government shutdown" at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is this paragraph:

While U.S. Highway 441, which runs through the park, will remain open, Scott says people are not allowed to stop along the road at the scenic overlooks, or break for lunch at one of the many picnic areas. She says the majority of the employees who will continue to work are law enforcement officers for the parks; they will be making sure tourists don’t try to circumvent the law.
(emphasis mine)

US Highway 441 runs through the middle of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Its also known as Newfound Gap Road.

Its a public road. Alongside it in strategic locations are a number of scenic overlooks. 

If all you have is time to drive through the park on your way between points A & B, you can stop and have a picnic, just enjoy the breathtaking beauty of God's Creation, or do something like this:

These are, apparently, not normal times.  The U.S. Government, as embodied by the Executive Branch (that would be the President and his Cabinet)  will send armed men in uniform to make sure that you do not "circumvent the law" by pushing the shutter button or swallow your Dr. Pibb.

Great Smokies is the most visited National Park in the country.  Millions of people travel US 441 every year.  The Park Service couldn't shut down the highway, so they've told people not to get out of their cars or they are "circumventing the law."

I'm wondering.  Which law would that be?

It goes deeper than that.  Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, is and always has been a privately funded museum and park.  Just down the road is a turn around that tour busses use.  Its on land owned by the Park Service.  This is what that turn around looks like today:

That's right.  Claiming that a road shorter in length than a football field is required to be shutdown if the government is, the park service has erected what are becoming know as "Barrycades" (after Barack "Barry" Obama as he was known to his chums in the elite private High School and Ivy League colleges he attended) to prevent tour busses going to Mount Vernon from turning around safely.  You see, they couldn't close down one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, but they could poke their finger in the eye of anybody who would try to go there, so they did.

Here's another example of Park Service overreach.

The Park Service has effectively closed the Claude Moore Colonial Farm.  But it is a privately operated, funded, and maintained Living History Farm.  No government money goes to its operation.  The problem is it sits on Park Service land.  The entrance is right on the road.

The George Washington Parkway to be exact, another public thoroughfare that the government can't close, just down the road from Mount Vernon. None of its employees are paid by the government.  None of its expenses are provided by the taxpayer, except through direct donation.  But you have to step foot on government property to get there.  On Monday, they were told to go home, that the government is closing them down.

A Lady named Anna Eberly who is the Managing Director of the farm, proves that she's not part of the Federal government by daring to send an email to supporters, volunteers, and donors that included this:

For the first time in 40 years, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally succeeded in closing the Farm down to the public. In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm. We weren't even informed of this until mid-day Monday in spite of their managers having our email addresses and cell numbers.

The first casualty of this arbitrary action was the McLean Chamber of Commerce who were having a large annual event at the Pavilions on Tuesday evening. The NPS sent the Park Police over to remove the Pavilions staff and Chamber volunteers from the property while they were trying to set up for their event. Fortunately, the Chamber has friends and they were able to move to another location and salvage what was left of their party. You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don't have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money.

(emphasis is mine).

You probably already know about the attempt to close down the WW2 Monument to visiting Veterans of the greatest conflict this Nation has engaged in, one that defeated the most evil government in the history of mankind.  Here's an aerial view of the WW2 Monument:

Its open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  How could it not be?  Its wide open on all sides.  There are no buildings to enter, no museum displays, just statues and obelisks.  People are, or were until Monday, free to walk through it whenever they please.  They can walk on the grounds on either end of it as well.  These grounds are the National Mall, also part of the National Park Service, and it is not closed down.  There are no gates, and no guards (again, until Monday) at the WW2 Memorial, and only minimal staff at an information booth.  The Park Service doesn't even provide security nor is it responsible for law enforcement at the site, the City of Washington, D.C. is.  Yet, the Park Service took it upon themselves to spend money to close down a site that costs them nothing--during a government shutdown based on funding---to erect barricades and station guards in an attempt to close it down.  It actually cost them more money to close it down than it would have to keep it open.

The Monument was erected, 50 years late, using private money, and like Mount Vernon and the Claude Moore Farm, money for maintenance is provided via another private fund.  The veterans who became famous for storming the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima have once again, in their late 80's and 90's, have now become famous for storming the barricades erected in front of their own Memorial.

Some of them did come home with souvenirs, though.

There was another government shutdown in 1995.  The WW2 Monument wasn't open then, but Claude Moore Farm and the bus turn around at Mount Vernon remained open.  Back then, the Lincoln Memorial was technically closed, but you could walk up to Old Abe and gaze upon his countenance if you wanted to:

This is what you will see if you go there today:

The same was true of the Jefferson Memorial.  Here's what it looks like today:

Here are armed men erecting barricades at the Martin Luther King Memorial:

These are statues beside public roads.  The Park Service is erecting barricades in around them and stationing armed in front of them.  Why? Why tell mothers and their children that they are going to have to drive another half hour and have their lunch in a Walmart parking lot instead of at a scenic overlook on US441?  Why tell WW2 veterans they can't walk on the sidewalks around the monument erected to commemorate their service and sacrifice?

There is something terrible wrong with the US Parks Service if they view shutting these things down, things that don't need any funds whatsoever, as being required to be shut down at any time---any time at all. Roads, statues, bus turn arounds, and privately funded historical activities, places the public normally walks across as a shortcut to and from work.  What reason, other than spite, overreach of authority, ignorance, or a desire to inflict pain on the electorate in order to manipulate them politically, could there be?



  1. We can only exercise our 1st amendment rights in some parks:

  2. And isn't it convenient that the ones they say we have that right in is in the parks that have been giving him the biggest political headaches?

    A good explanation as to why that's total BS can be found here:

    What should come out of this is to hand over a substantial part of the National Park system to the States. When it starts being less of a Public Service and more of a Political tool, its time to dilute that power. An excellent article on that can be found here: