The U.S. Office of Management and Budget ordered Acadia National Park to start shutdown procedures Saturday morning as Congress prepared to restart discussions the same afternoon to try to come to a budget compromise.
The park could furlough 79 employees over the next three days, going from 94 to 15, said Acadia spokeswoman Christie Anastasia. Employees will find out whether they are furloughed when they show up for work. She added she is able to work until 4 p.m. Monday.
“We’ve started to furlough weekend employees,” Anastasia said. “We’ll stay as accessible as possible, but if it snows we aren’t authorized to plow the Park Loop Road or parking lots. All the restrooms are closed.” Right now less than 5 miles of the 27-mile Park Loop Road are open because of snow and ice, as is usually the case during winter months.
She said that as of Saturday morning, the park still hadn’t received a statement from the National Park Service to use as an announcement that the park was shutting down. She said the statement would be put up later on the park’s website.
“People driving up from Bangor will have no clue until they get here,” she said. “[Park workers] are putting signs up now.”
The current closure “looks very different” from the most recent shutdown in October 2013, “when the gates were thrown shut,” Anastasia added.
Saturday’s shutdown starts with delegation for park matters handed from the superintendent to the chief ranger, and the furloughs.
The shutdown procedures could stop if the Congress agrees on a budget over the weekend, so the situation is very fluid, Anastasia added.
People can still use the park, but they will not get emergency help from park staff.
“They’ll need to call 911 [if they get hurt], if they can get cell service,” she said.
Bar Harbor police Sgt. Leigh Guilford said the government shutdown doesn’t affect his department. “But we will answer if they call us. Local police will respond to events on the perimeter of the park.”
Separately, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy said the Appalachian Trail will remain accessible for the approximately 700 miles managed by the National Park Service and over 800 miles managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
While visitors can access and hike on the trail, there will be no visitor services, maintenance or other management activities. Emergency and rescue services will be limited.
“Any entry onto NPS and USFS property during this period of a federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk,” the conservancy said in a statement issued Saturday.
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