(Eminence) – Because of the shutdown of the federal government, the National Park Service (NPS) has closed all 401 national parks including Ozark National Scenic Riverways. All park facilities including amenities on the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers are closed except for the Ozark Trail, a through trail, and state and county roads. The public will not be allowed to access any area of the park. Riverways staff will be on duty during the closure to protect life and property. Any visitors found in a closed area will be asked to leave.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways Superintendent Bill Black said, “It is unfortunate that this has occurred. This closure will impact the local communities who rely on the park’s visitation for their businesses. With gigging season underway, fall floating and camping, and the upcoming deer season opening, the government shutdown will impact the public utilizing the park.”
Park visitors staying at the Big Spring Lodge and Cabins and in the park’s campgrounds will be given 48 hour notices to make travel arrangements and leave the park. In addition, all upcoming park programs and school visits will be cancelled, and special events relocated, including the Haunting in the Hills scheduled at Alley Spring October 12th and 13th, if the budget impasse continues. Any scheduled Special Park Uses such as weddings may not take place in the park.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways hosts close to 80,000 visitors during the month of October.
At Ozark National Scenic Riverways, 15 employees remain on duty to provide security, protection, emergency response, firefighting, and to maintain water and waste water facilities. The park will furlough about 57 employees and approximately 44 concession employees will be affected by the shut-down.
Nationwide the shutdown has also furloughed nearly 21,379 National Park Service employees; approximately 3,200 employees remain on duty to ensure essential health, safety, and security functions at parks and facilities. About 15,000 park concession employees are also affected.
The NPS website at www.nps.gov and campground reservations at www.recreation.gov will go dark for the duration of the shutdown. NPS.gov has more than 600,000 pages and 250,000 unique visitors. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways Facebook page will also be inactive.
Once the federal government shutdown is over, park facilities will be reopened as timely as possible and events can resume.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.