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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Source:  WVLT

Posted: Tuesday, January 01, 2019 02:23 PM

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Great Smoky Mtn National Park Says It May Remain Open Despite Threat Of Government Shutdown

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park said on Friday that it has not received any direction on what an orderly shutdown would entail, meaning it could stay open.

The current administration is handling the situation differently than the Obama administration in hopes of keeping the park as accessible as possible if a shutdown occurs.

If Congress can not pass a new federal budget bill, the Smokies will not close any roads unless they become impassible due to things like ice or fallen trees. Three roads are a top priority in the event of a shutdown: the Spur, Newfound Gap Road and West Foothills Parkway.

Two campgrounds will remain open, however all visitor centers, restrooms and concessions stands will be closed.

For now though, they say the park is open as normal.

"If the weather's not good, it's not safe for anybody to be out. Especially with the weather so close to freezing," Benjamin Whiskeyjack, Drove from Canada.

One family drove from Niagara Falls to GSMNP to find many roads closed because of the weather. They said they can understand the safety concerns, and they're hopeful to get on the trails this weekend.

But if the federal government shuts down, many visitors say that will a disappointment that's not as understandable as the weather.

"One of the main reasons they want to come up here is to spend time in the park and to get outside and hit the trails and stuff like that," vistor Brent Ruffin said. "Even in inclement weather, it's still fun to drive around and it'd be pretty frustrating to pull up to locked gates."

There's also a local economic impact, with the folks who work for the park not bringing home a paycheck.