Local News

Oct 1, 2013 1:23 PM by Rachel Cole - rcole@kristv.com

Padre Island National Seashore Closes After Government Shutdown

KLEBERG COUNTY - The government shutdown is already affecting the coastal bend. At midnight, the Padre Island National Seashore Park closed. Tuesday morning employees were placed on furlough.

Boarded up visitor centers and offices, flashing red lights and cones blocking traffic are just a few signs that the park is closed. Not just to the public but for dozens of workers too.

About 40 workers were furloughed and about 14 park rangers are allowed to stay.

William Botts is the education coordinator and one of the rangers who doesn't know when he'll be able to go back to work.

"Under the guidelines of the government, when the appropriations are cut off, we go to a furlough status," Botts said.

The closure comes as a result of the government shutdown and the capitol's inability to reach an agreement with the budget.

Now, more than 70 miles of beach and the Bird Island Basin are closed. Botts says this is a bummer for fishermen who can no longer launch their boats from that area.

"Technically, they can't even fish in park waters, we'll have rangers on patrol to make sure that people know the waters as well as the land that's under are jurisdiction is closed," he added.

A few park rangers were on site closing down the visitor areas. Botts says the closure will force them to cancel field trips to the national park.

"Some kids were scheduled to come out and I'm trying now, in my last hours here, to notify the schools to keep in touch to try to reschedule," he said.

Botts says he hopes a solution to the shutdown is reached sooner rather than later.

"We want to get back to work all of us, we take pride in what we do and I know a lot of people love this place," he said.

Park rangers say the national waters are marked for boaters and fisherman because certain activities are allowed in state waters but not always on federal properties.

This afternoon, Republican leaders told the Associated Press that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives intends to pass legislation to reopen portions of the government, including national parks and processing of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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