Disappointed tourists turned away at Sequoia National Park
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The government shutdown has furloughed hundreds of workers at the Sequoia National Park.
Eyewitness News spoke to tourists Thursday who said they knew Sequoia National Park wouldn't be staffed due to the government shutdown, but they thought they could at least still go in and see the giant trees. Upon arrival, they learned that wasn't the case when they were met by closure signs and a locked entrance.
"I'm really mad, I wanted to see the sequoias trees and all the beautiful things that California has to offer," said Josephine Mischvich, who is vising California from Pennsylvania.
Mischvich said her vacation has been filled with frustration because of the government shutdown. She said she and her sister have been planning a trip to see the sequoias for 15 years.
"Today we were supposed to see the sequoia trees, and the park is closed down," said Mischvich, obviously upset after traveling across the country to be met by a roadblock.
After the government shutdown on Tuesday, the National Park Service closed all 401 national parks. That includes Sequoia and Kings National Parks.
More than 800,000 federal workers were temporarily laid off Tuesday, hundreds being park employees.
"Two-hundred eighty-four national parks employees have been furloughed as a result of the shutdown. Sixty-three employees are currently working particularly for law enforcement and fire purposes," said Dana Dierkes with Sequoia and Kings National Parks.
Dierkes said furloughed employees and tourists aren't the only ones affected by the park's closure.
"Sequoia and Kings National Parks contributes approximately nearly $120 million a year to the local economies and local communities," said Dierkes.
Many businesses surrounding the park depend heavily on tourists for business.
"Immediately, the next day, business dropped drastically from a full house to hardly any customers at all," said Leah Schwarz, who is a waiter at Casa Mendoza, restaurant just miles away from Sequoia National Park's entrance.
And some of those customers, now frustrated, have this message for lawmakers: "I'll tell you what, that Congress better get busy and do something and settle this budget," said Mischvich.