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Government Shutdown Would Impact Local National Parks

Local national park employees worry about the impact a government shutdown could have here in the four states.
Stacey Nelson, Mother of three.
Stacey Nelson, Mother of three.
DIAMOND, MO.--- Jim Heaney was a park ranger at a national park in Philadelphia the last time there was a government shutdown.

"Weeks without pay that took place during the Christmas season. It was very frustrating, obviously, it wasn't as happy a holiday season back then," said Jim Heaney, George Washington Carver National Monument Superintendent. 

Now, as the superintendent of George Washington Carver National Monument, Heaney worries about the impact a shutdown would have on their visitors and employees. 

"This is a time of year where we're a very popular destination for school field trips," said Heaney. 

He says typically they see students from a school a day, but if there is a shutdown that won't be the case.

"We've already called them and let them know that if the government is shutdown, the park will not be open," said Heaney. 

Stacey Nelson is a mother of three and says that would be upsetting for her elementary age children.

"They work hard on learning about this kind of stuff before they go on their field trips, and then not to be able to come would be really disappointing to them," said Stacie Nelson, mother. 

Nelson says she came out today to better understand the history of the area.

"The forestry and all the parks that are run by the government, I think they are so important. They give us access to places and information that we wouldn't normally have," said Nelson. 

Not only would the park closing affect their visitors but also the employees.

"We will be furloughing 13 employees including myself. During that time, we would not get paid and there's no guarantee that we would get backpay," said Heaney. 

Heaney says it's all very disconcerting.

"Our agency has already seen a freeze in pay, budget cuts, and now this on top of it. It tends to get a little discouraging," said Heaney. 

Heaney also says a film project at the park could be delayed if a prolonged shutdown occurs. George Washington Carver Monument is one of more than 400 national parks that would be affected if the government shuts down.

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