Businesses near U.S. National Parks especially hard hit shutdown
Overnight the governor in Utah announced a deal to pay the U.S. Department of the Interior more than a million dollars to re-open that states five national parks
He called them the “backbone” of the economy for the towns that surround those areas.
Perhaps nowhere is that more true than outside the nation’s most popular park, the great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The park attracts more than 10-million visitors a year.
That is more than double the number that travel to the Grand Canyon, the nation’s second most popular park.
But right now the Smokies are mostly empty.
Trails and campgrounds are blocked and barricaded by the government shutdown.
Trips planned for months are now reduced to a drive through the only open highway and a few snap-shots.
“Every corner you see something really nice but you can’t get out and enjoy it,” said Rick Edwards from Kentucky.
In Gatlinburg and other towns along the edge of the park the shutdown is ruining much more than vacations.
“The economy is losing anywhere between 7 and 14 million dollars a day; every day that the park is closed,” said Holly Scott with The Friends of the Smokies.
As red, orange and yellow begin to dot the hillside, the color businesses count on the most here during what is normally the busiest season of the year is green.
There are still tourists along the main drag, but not as many. And for those that make their living inside the park, times are even tougher.
Vesna Plakanis owns ‘a walk in the woods’ leading guided nature walks with hiking and backpack trips through the park.
October normally accounts for 20-percent of her Business for the year.
“This is like somebody took my bank account and set it on fire,” said Plakanis.
“This is what i love. This is what we all love. My guides do this. They could do any number of things but we do this because we love the park, we love this area and it’s really devastating.”
And getting worse every day the government and Great Smoky Mountains national park is shut down.