I Stand With the National Park Service

National Park ServiceI have a number of friends who work for the National Park Service. They protect this nation’s most important cultural, environmental, and historical treasures. As a group they are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable public servants that you will find and they are worth every cent of our tax dollars. I am absolutely disgusted at the unwarranted accusations being hurled in their direction during this federal shutdown. Here is one lone voice in response to some of the nonsense that is being spread about the closure of NPS sites across the country.

No one misses the parks more than those who work in them, Kevin. When we were furloughed, a part of the shutdown included closure of park buildings, parks roads and avenues, and memorials for security reasons for protection of the resource itself and visitors. I’ve seen posts and caught some of the “the parks are owned by the American public and we’re taking them back” crowd but as yet have not seen a line of these same persons volunteering to clean the toilets, patrol the roads, provide assistance at information stations or in back country park areas, or sweep the floors after a thousand or more visitors have tramped through leaving behind candy wrappers, et al. FOX news reported that NPS rangers were told to make the closure “as painful as possible”, which is total nonsense. Tea Party reps like Michele Bachman and Randy Neugebauer have used the closure of the WW2 Memorial to grandstand for themselves and gone as far as to dress down an NPS employee simply doing her job – unpaid at the moment- by controlling access to a closed site. Rand Paul has referred to Park Police as “goons” sent to close the memorials from the American public.

Through it all, NPS employees on and off duty have upheld their professional standards and not called these congressmen out for their insults and ignorance of what the NPS actually does. We protect national treasures and try to provide visitors, not just American taxpayers but people from all nations, with a gracious and positive experience that some in congress and in this country would prefer to see privatized so the parks and monuments can be open at their will, (and by the way, for a higher fee than is currently charged at some parks). Disheartening, yes, but not just to someone like me who has over 34 years experience in the NPS but also to the 18-24 year old seasonals whose experience in the national parks is often the experience of a life time and who want to make the NPS a career. Given the current state of political affairs in Washington and the rhetoric from a percentage of Americans who spew out their disgust with the NPS via keyboards, they don’t have a chance. But back to your question- did the Obama Administration decide to make the closure as difficult as possible? No; it was a minority of congressmen who decided to hold the Federal budget as hostage to get their way and who did not think it would effect any normal function of a government agency dedicated to provide security and protection for the resources and its visitors on the Washington Mall.

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90 comments… add one
  • Vernon Cooke Oct 13, 2013 @ 6:04

    Whoever wrote this article and others sympathetic with him need to be confronted with situations that will really make them angry and I don’t mean piddly little situations either. It is stupid to fight over something like 21 cents but let’s say it were a major amount of money like in the thousands of dollars or something that involves an extreme amount of suffering, then that is a horse of a different color.

  • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 7:35

    Can we talk about CW stuff.

    This whole fighting between the two parties is tiresome!

    Though somewhat interesting and entertaining can we just move on :)?

  • Al Jenkins Oct 9, 2013 @ 19:01

    Start with the basic premise. NPS workers are a reflection of Americans, some outstanding, some cr_p, most average. The bulk of them have a higher than average interest in History. Most are willing to share that while with a few, its like pulling teeth.

    I believe that the Park Ranger who has been widely quoted saying he has been told by his superiors to make it as hard on the public as possible speaks more than a grain of truth. Combined the IRS treatment of the Administration’s political opponents, with the closing of open air monuments, the treatment of the tour bus seniors, the closings of Park Roads to private businesses and the withholding of funeral anrelated family costs to US sodldiers seems to point to a “Harassment Policy.

    Too many Government employees do not realize that they exist to “Serve” the public instead of ruling the Public.

    It should be noted that the bulk of the government functions affected by the shutdwn of 17% of the total federal spending, including the NPS have been fully funded by the House but are stuck in the Senate. We should call our Senators and tell them to pass th NPS bills ad forward to the President’s office.

    • Patrick Young Oct 10, 2013 @ 5:46

      Or we could fund the whole government and allow the normal legislative process to take place.

      As I have said before, if this Republican tactic works, then everyone is going to do it. Why not shut down the government or allow the country to go over the fiscal cliff if immigration reform is not passed?

      • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 5:48

        Exactly. It’s a horrible precedent to set in place.

        • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 7:21

          I’m operating on the premise that you guys think increasing our current debt is self obviously a bad thing, Pretty soon the check bounces.

          If we fund the whole government does any serious person think that spending will be cut. If these “tactics” are wrong how can we lower the debt and otherwise cut spending?

          What does immigration reform have to do with this?

          It seems that a compromise of delaying the individual mandate requirement one year would be a compromise that everybody can live with. it would allow time to iron out the large amount of computer problems while not stopping those who want to sign up to keep doing it.

          It does seem positive that the two sides are meeting today.

          • Pat Young Oct 10, 2013 @ 9:08

            Al J wrote: “What does immigration reform have to do with this?”
            If you can shut down the government for your legislative program, others can shut it down for theirs. I thought that was obvious.

            • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:50


              Good sense of humor here Patrick!

              I can top that. How bout; Immediate expulsion of all Illegals and Minefields on the Borders.

              At least Minefields gets us back on the CIVIL WAR topic. Think the Crater here!

              • Patrick Young Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:02

                Sorry, I don’t engage people who advocate the killing of Latinos.

                • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:52

                  Thats just silly and uppity. Apparently you lack the irony gene, as no reasonable person could possibly advocate the killing of any such.

                  The kegakization of those who came here illegal is a moral wrong as it creates disrespect for law. The costs of illegals to our public health and edication systems is phenominal. No reasonable person is opposed to people coming here LEGALLY, as i did in the late 50’s from Eastern Europe.

  • Steve Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:05

    You think if Obama and Reid would go for a one year delay in implementing Obama care, we can open up the government. Let those who want Obama care go ahead and sign up for it, those not interested in it, can wait until the bugs are worked out of it. Like Pelosi said, you have to pass it to read it! They should read it now! Obama gave a lot of businesses a delay how abut some equity for the little guy. The republicans are wiling to negotiate how about the dems? But the blamer in chief continues to blame republicans.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 9, 2013 @ 12:45

      I understand that people are against the program, but when did we start treating laws in this way? I always thought elections were the way to overturn prior legislation.

      • Al Jenkins Oct 10, 2013 @ 4:13

        Kev: Not just people but MOST people oppose the law in total’ though some provisions are not unpopular..

        Elections have consequences. In 2010 Speaker Pelosi became Minority Leader Pelosi, in great part because of ObamaCare. In 2012 Minority Leader Pelosi was still Minority Leader Pelosi. In your state the Ted Kennedy seat went to the Republican Scott Brown, whose biggest campaign statement was that he was the 41st vote against Obamacare. The President was re-elected despite not touting his signature legislation.

        Kevin laws have always been “treated” this way, the whim of political feeling at any one time.. Slavery was not changed because of elections but with extraordinary force. Upon his election Lincoln’s first task was to keep the Union together Bush Tax Laws were not changed because of an election, but because they were sunsetted in the original legislation and the President would not extend though Congress was not unwilling. If the Tax Cuts did not have the sunset provsion they would still be the law of the land today as the House would never eliminate them.

        • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 4:32

          That’s an incredibly weak argument. Thanks for the comment.

          • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 5:11

            Reason for “an incredibly weak argument”?

            I(n my working years I once participated in a Tax conference where I was on a panel with the economist Paul Krugman. Someone brought up a point on a Tax issue that was very complex where all kinds of answers were possible. A tax partner at Price Waterhouse brought up a point contray to something Paul (who was working with our side) had said. Paul called him “stupid”. Taken aback all waited for Paul to explain his comment. He didn’t add any more. After a tense minute or two we moved on. The Partner was upset. Our side was embarrassed. A year later, the same people (excepting Paul) were in another conference. It was agood topic to lighten the meeting!)

            • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 5:30

              I apologize for that last comment. Definitely not justified. I don’t see the connection between the abolition of slavery and how the Republicans are going about trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by shutting down the government. Can you give me an example of when this specifically happened before? Thanks.

              • Al Jenkins Oct 10, 2013 @ 6:32

                Kev: Thanks for responding. If I ever had to account for everything I say, I don’t think I could Often my thoughts just come out.

                When I was a young Dad with my triplet girls I would say “Just because.” to their “Why?”. Now I have to explain everything to them, to my chagrin! (25 Year Old High maintenance Females are not always fun. I am most proud that though they watch E_News they all know what thew “Fish Hook’ at Gettysburg is!)

                I was referring to Politicians reacting to popular opinion in contrast to their positions when elected. One more comes to mind. George Bush I saying “Read my Lips. No New Taxes.” The next year he rose them.”

                i now think you are referring to shutting down the government over a specific issue.

                I think all sides are to blame, but each is standing on principle which is not necessarily a bad thing. Two things are fairly clear. The public doesn’ like Obamacare and wants the shutdown to end. Each side agrees that some things are good in O’Care and that some things are wasteful in the Federal Government.

                it does seem like something might come of Obama assenting to meet today with Boehner.

                The debt and deficit spending simply can’t continue without changes that will require spending priorities.

        • M.D. Blough Oct 10, 2013 @ 5:53

          That war was needed to end slavery was the great failure of the United States’ system of government. It’s not and never was

          There is a simpler way to end the closure of the national parks than piece meal legislation funding those programs whose closure is the most embarrassing to those behind the shutdown: pass a clean continuing resolution. The Democrats are refusing to play the game of pitting programs against each other.

          The Democrats got far more votes for the House than the Republicans did. A major reason that this didn’t result in a change in control of the House is that Republicans in the state legislatures used the 2010 census to gerrymander congressional districts. I, who live in Harrisburg, PA, am now “represented” by someone from Williamsport in N.E. PA near Scranton & Wilkes Barre. As for Scott Brown, you mean FORMER Senator Scott Brown. Massachusetts is currently represented by two liberal Democrats, Elizabeth Warren (who defeated Scott Brown) and Ed Markey.

          The President has repeatedly compromised on spending bills and related legislation to the point of angering many in his own party. The Republicans have made it clear that they will not even discuss giving up in the slightest on anything substantive. They want the President to gut programs that are falsely labeled “entitlements” in return for nothing buying more time before the crisis. I hope he holds firm or we will be back to government by manufactured crisis. Also, the Bush tax cuts were repeatedly extended, despite President Bush’s promise, when they were passed, that they would be short term, and over Republican pressure to make them permanent.

          BTW, if the amount of spending is so insignificant as you claim elsewhere, why won’t the House Republicans pass a cleaning CR?

          • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 7:05

            “Not and Never was” What?

            Mapquest shows 90 Miles to Harrisburg and 100 to Scranton. You sure that Willimsport is closer to Scranton?

            If you want to get into gerrymandering, I would suggest that you look at Maryland and Illinois that would offset Pennsylvania. it seems BOTH sides do this?!

            So your idea of compromise is that the House should totally give in on the shutdown. These people as well as the President were elected because of their viewpoints and negotiations should be undertaken to prioritize spending. We shouldn’t denigrate either side for taking political/principled stances. My way or the highway should not be used by the Administration or the Congress.

            Over everything hovers the fact that if you keep spending more than you take in, eventually economic collapse occurs. Any one who believes that more debt is the solution is not playing with a full deck.

            Spending must be cut.

            • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 7:09

              My point on Scott Brown is that his key issue in 2010 was his anti ObamaCare vote.

              • M.D. Blough Oct 10, 2013 @ 8:02

                And the fact that his 2010 opponent ran an insanely inept campaign had nothing at all to do with it? Apparently, the prospect of keeping Brown as an anti-Obamacare vote wasn’t enough to keep him in office which is not surprising considering that the Obamacare was heavily based on the Massachusetts plan which was passed when Romney was governor (it was interesting watching Romney trying to savage concepts that he once trumpeted as his major legislative achievements). I doubt anyone voting for Elizabeth Warren doubted how she would vote on any challenges to Obamacare.

                • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 8:20

                  Martha Coakley was inept as a campaigner.

                  But the biggest motivation for his supporters was his anti- ObamaCare message. Over and over his advertising emphasized such Coakley emphasized her support for Obama and his policies. She rarely mentioned ObamaCare.

                  In THAT year his message was the more persuasive and sucessful.

                  The next year with the popular Obama on the ballot Brown lost 51-49. The Warren advertsing did NOT discuss ObamaCare but a general support for the popular Obama.

            • M.D. Blough Oct 10, 2013 @ 7:54

              Spending HAS been cut, repeatedly. Shutting down the government to get one’s way on a piece of legislation is an unacceptable tactic. If I believed for one second that the GOP wanted the delay in order to aid the effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act, I’d feel differently, but they’ve made it clear that they are attempting to destroy an act that they were unsuccessful in preventing its passage and which was upheld, except for the Medicaid expansion mandate, by the US Supreme Court in which the majority is very conservative. Obamacare is NOT unpopular in the general population, especially if they are asked about specific provisions & not just the slogans thrown at them on Fox News and others.

              The shutdown is enormously expensive to the government. As for the debt, this is something we largely owe to ourselves and the government can and does print money. There is no analogy to personal indebtedness (although Republicans are attempting to use such analogies in an attempt to minimize the potential consequences of default).

              I hope the President holds firm because unless and until the Republicans stop acting like having what practically every industrialized country has and has had for many years in terms of health care is a sign of the coming of the Apocalypse, he can’t negotiate with people who feel that the only concession must come from him.

            • M.D. Blough Oct 10, 2013 @ 8:03

              I’m ready. I have the sense of going around in circles on the other stuff.

              • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 8:37

                I agree with your assertion that PARTS of ObamaCare are unpopular with the Generall Public. But in TOTAL it is NOT. To argue such ignores all known polling.

                In TOTAL the Supreme Court is Moderately Conservative. Tony Scalia is more than balanced off by Mrs Ginsburg.

                Somewhat bizarre comments on printing money. I’m thinking the Weimar Republic and wheelbarrels full of money. It sounds like you are in the unlimited debt camp????

                Those who propose National Health Care as a panacea ignore the problems of Britain, which by the way is now refusing to treat illegals. There will be a loss of medical progress, as without capitalistic incentives there will be a virtual standstill in R&D as the American economic system offering Profit that has produced the “wonder drugs” and medical miracles will be disincentivised.

                Sounds like you are advocating a no compromise situation. That doesn’t seem like a prescription for sucess!

  • Josh Chambers Oct 7, 2013 @ 6:54

    glad to see the Republicans tried to reopen the NPS sites. However the Dems refused such actions. Somehow that part of the discussion were left out in this site .

    • M.D. Blough Oct 7, 2013 @ 20:26

      Josh-because it is not as simple as that, and you know it. This isn’t the first time this stunt has been used so no one can be naive enough not to know what was potential for harm was. What they are going for is to try to get the most embarrassing examples out of the headlines and try to play agencies and constituencies against each other. The fact is that all the Republicans need to do is to pass a clean CR and EVERYTHING will reopen. As for Obamacare, they can make yet another appeal to the electorate and try to get enough Senators to control the Senate as well as the house. However, they haven’t been very successful at that in the last few elections, have they?

      • Al Jenkins Oct 9, 2013 @ 19:17

        Now the President wants all this tied to the Debt Limit increase, Adding another 1Trillion or so with no spending limits is not a good thing. What is needed is for the President and Congress to sit down and negotiate (aka Prioritize spending).

        In the meantime Josh’s point would get the NPS IMMEDIATELY funded. Call your Senator and tell him to push the bill through to the Oval Office,

  • Dale Fishel Oct 7, 2013 @ 5:28

    I just completed at one weeks tour related to the Battle of Gettysburg. While we were not able to access the park in ways that were expected before the closure we were able to complete the tour by use of public roads and less well-known parts of the battlefield outside park boundaries. A ranger asked us politely to restrict our movements to these roads and was otherwise very professional and pleasant. My sympathy is with them; they’ve been put in a very difficult situation and are not the villains in this sad situation. But, don’t get me started relative to the idiocy prevailing with Congress and it’s (out of touch with the American Public) representatives.

  • Andy Hall Oct 6, 2013 @ 19:39
  • grandadfromthehills Oct 6, 2013 @ 18:55

    I have deep respect for the NPS. Their job is often thankless and most do their jobs as though they are entrusted with national treasures…and they are! However, I despise politicizing them for gain. The articles cited above I am certain are similar to http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/10/05/list-obama-closures-for-shutdown which berates aggressive tactics. Nobody likes that.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 7, 2013 @ 1:18

      The Breitbart piece is just another example of the irresponsible reporting that we’ve seen over and over. Obama does this… Obama does that.

      • Al Mackey Oct 7, 2013 @ 5:12

        I agree that it’s irresponsible. The Obamas do have to eat, and both of them have a pretty full schedule so someone has to cook the food. I see nothing wrong with the WH Chef being designated essential. I do have a problem if there are government employees supporting recreational activity who are deemed essential in order for the President to enjoy that recreational activity. If that part is true, and I don’t know if it is or not, then I have a big problem.

        I think where the article is useful, though, is in pointing out another side of the story–that this shutdown is not the sole product of one side of the aisle, but rather a product of both political parties. We have 537 elected officials in Washington as suspects to blame for the shutdown. We can and probably will disagree on how to apportion the blame among those 537 elected officials, but almost every one of them bears some part of the blame.

        By the way, he’s right that in previous shutdowns the commissaries on military bases stayed open. The Obama Administration has the authority to keep them open by designating them essential operations. Just like the White House Chef. People have to eat.

      • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 7:29

        I relize that Breitbart is an opinion, but what facts are incorrect or “irresponsible” here?

        Certianly there is some truth in the article!

        • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 7:59

          Where is the investigative part of the report? Seems like the overwhelming majority of reports do little more than make accusations.

          • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 9:29

            Kev: I checked out the 20 or so closures mentioned in the Breitbart piece. They seem to be fairly stated here with little or no editorial comment added to the 20.

            Conversely the piece written by Heather on the Gov’t closings which was fully endorsed by several commentators has no factual source3s to back it up other than her statements, which can’t be backed up with the info presented. Though I more or less agree with most of her facts as presented. I do find the Breitbart to be a superior form of “investigative Journalism” compared to Heather’s post.

            • Kevin Levin Oct 10, 2013 @ 9:52

              I think we are working with two different standards of what counts as sound journalism.

              • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 10:52

                I think were in agreement here.

                Breitbart – Sourced Facts and Opinion.

                Heather – Anectodal Facts and O

  • asirna87 Oct 6, 2013 @ 12:10

    The Organic Act is noticeably absent in the larger conversation about the closure of national parks. The NPS was created to protect and preserve natural and cultural resources from impairment for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The NPS has few options to protect resources if access is unfettered for an indeterminate period of time. Most of the public does not realize that the National Mall is an extremely mediated experience. The NPS cannot ensure visitor safety or resource protection without adequate staffing. I posted a blog yesterday on this. http://asirna.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/shutdown-showdown-and-the-battle-over-national-parks-week-one/

    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 12:14

      Thanks so much for sharing this link. It is unfortunate that people are drawing conclusions with very little understanding of the NPS’s overall mission and the responsibilities of individual sites. Again, thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Ray Oct 6, 2013 @ 11:47

    Thanks for posting this Kevin. I have been getting questions about “Why are museums closed?” “Why are parks closed?” and the like with no one realizing the individuals in front and behind the scenes that it takes to keep that park/monument/museum open for individuals to view it. This is not the NPS’s doing. This is done by a group in Congress that saw their chance but did not realize the ramifications (or maybe they did). What is disheartening is the fact that neither of the fractions nor parties nor chambers can sit down and work out the differences.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 11:50

      Perhaps Neugebauer knew exactly what he was doing. Grandstand in front of an innocent NPS employee and the general public and deflect the nation’s attention away from Congress.

  • Dave Oct 6, 2013 @ 11:10

    I’m not sure which way this cuts, but it’d be interesting to see how much is being lost in National Park Service receipts for every day that NPS employees are furloughed. The loss of the “user fee” gate receipts might be pretty significant in parks like Shenandoah, where October is a peak month.

    Will Congressman Neugebauer and his gang agree to vote for ADDITIONAL funding for the Park Service to make up for the receipts LOST because of his gang’s decisions?

    • Keith Muchowskieith Oct 6, 2013 @ 14:15

      Yes, many don’t realize that there are no “savings” involved in a shutdown. For starters, there are costs involved with the actual shutting down. Then, there are costs during the shutdown. Finally, hundreds of millions more are spent getting back on track when it is over. And the NPS is just one agency. Multiply that for the Library of Congress, NIH, etc.

      In a related note, friends and I were supposed to visit Hyde Park yesterday to see the FDR presidential museum, library, etc. October is a busy tourism time at the FDR home, with many “leaf chasers” arriving to see the fall foliage. With us not going, that’s money not spent in the local restaurants, on the toll booths, etc. I have seen that the Gettysburg economy, to pick another example, has been hit hard with hotel cancellations and everything else.

  • Al Mackey Oct 6, 2013 @ 9:08

    God Bless the rangers.

  • Russ Smith Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:56

    Thanks for your understanding, Kevin. Closures are not a choice by the NPS. It’s against the law for non-essential employees to work without funding being available to pay them. In my 40 years in the Service, I have found that the vast majority of NPS employees are dedicated public servants who would rather be doing their jobs.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:59

      Hi Russ,

      The amount of vitriol and misinformation being thrown your way is truly sickening. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say thanks for everything that you and everyone else at the NPS does for this country.

  • Christopher Coleman Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:40

    Having worked with a local parks department for five years, let me assure you that, left unattended, historic sites and even simple parkland run a high risk of vandalism as well as the public being injured by unforeseen accidents–after which there would be public outrage against parks personnel for being negligent!

    No, the NPS did the right thing. It is Congress which did the wrong thing. Put the monkey back on their backs, where it belongs.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:46

      Of course. If anything and given the importance of many of these sites one would think that Americans would be grateful that the NPS is taking extra precautions. I believe the NPS employee quoted in this post when he says that they, more than anyone else, want to see these sites reopened so that Americans and visitors from outside the country can once again enjoy them.

  • Lyle Smith Oct 6, 2013 @ 7:59

    I don’t stand with the NPS. Barricading the memorials in D.C. looks pathetic to me. The NPS is not innocent. They are the federal government after all.


    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:02

      Fair enough, but you don’t seem to be interested in discovering why certain closures were made. The article you cite simply makes the claim that they are based on one interview. For example:

      “This is basically just a road that people can drive along, where they don’t need supervision,” she says of Skyline Drive, which is currently closed because of the government shutdown. Closing it, and other scenic parkways, not to mention barricading places like the World War II memorial, is little more than ”political grandstanding” — it may even require more manpower than it would to keep them open.

      Again, perhaps closing Skyline Drive is unnecessary, but than again perhaps the folks in charge of that unit have concerns. Do you know for certain that they have sufficient numbers for maintenance and security to ensure that drivers are safe?

      • Lyle Smith Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:23

        Kevin, some people are claiming it is taking more NPS workers to put up the barricades or orange cones than to maintain the memorials or roads themselves. Let’s be serious. There are real safety concerns and then there are political concerns.

        Have you heard about the orange cones at Mt. Rushmore to keep people from being able to take pictures of it from the road?


        I applaud the NPS for making good faith common sense decisions, but barricading and orange coning some of these places reveals a lack of common sense and appears to be done in bad faith.

        What evidence is there that the World War II memorial barricades have been put up in good faith?

        • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:29

          Once again you’ve provided not a single piece of evidence for any wrongdoing by the NPS.

          Have you heard about the orange cones at Mt. Rushmore to keep people from being able to take pictures of it from the road?

          With all due respect, you can’t be serious. Is this really the reason the road was closed? I am not the one making the accusations so please don’t for a minute ask me to do the work for you.

          • Lyle Smith Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:37

            Kevin, the orange cones were placed on a state highway in South Dakota!

            And again, what evidence do you have that the barricades in D.C. have been put in good faith? Why barricade an open-air memorial? What are the safety concerns?

            If you want to accuse me of lacking serious Kevin, you better look at yourself in the mirror.

            • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 8:43

              First, this is not the first time that NPS sites have been closed as a result of a federal shutdown. Did you express the same outrage and concern during those previous shutdowns. Everyone that I’ve talked to has said that these steps are being taken to ensure that the sites are not damaged and for public safety. The gentleman that I quoted in the post makes this point. Why do I need to explain to you the safety concerns? I don’t work for the NPS nor am I privy to the specifics re: maintenance of these sites. Are you?

              If you are genuinely curious about the reasons I would suggest that you attempt to contact NPS personnel. Just don’t think for a minute that I am going to be persuaded by the two news items you’ve cited in your comments. They are of no value at all.

              • R. Alex Raines Oct 6, 2013 @ 9:16

                Perhaps, Kevin, you should provide an essay or two on sourcing and logical fallacies. Seems pretty clear to me that Mr. Smith needs that assistance.

                • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 9:18

                  Perhaps you could take the time to make a point rather than engage in vague accusations. Russ Smith is a respected NPS historian. If you have a question for him I suggest you ask it. If not, I suggest you not say anything at all. Good day.

                  • Brooks D. Simpson Oct 6, 2013 @ 10:35

                    Which Mr. Smith is being addressed by Mr. Raines?

                    • Dave Oct 6, 2013 @ 10:48

                      Kevin and Brooks, I think Mr. Raines probably was referring to LYLE Smith and not to Russ Smith, the NPS historian. Let’s hope Mr. Raines’ first initial, “R,” doesn’t also stand for “Russ.”


                    • R. Alex Raines Oct 6, 2013 @ 21:04

                      As Dave noted, I was addressing Mr. Lyle Smith.

              • Lyle Smith Oct 6, 2013 @ 9:19

                I wasn’t paying attention during the last shutdown. Oh, the glory of youth. But yeah, if closures were made in bad faith then I would have been upset.

                And just like you I’m not privy to all that is going on with the NPS, but I do look forward one day to reading all of the communications the NPS and the White House have made with regards to these closures. I really do want to understand the maintenance and safety reasons for closing the World War II memorial. Will reasonable people see that they acted in good faith? 🙂

                • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 9:21

                  Well, at least you are honest enough to admit that you have no evidence of wrongdoing at this point. Perhaps evidence will surface at some point. In the meantime if you have a question for Russ Smith (NPS), who left a comment on this thread go ahead and ask. I am sure he would be more than happy to respond to an honest query.

                  • Lyle Smith Oct 6, 2013 @ 10:06

                    The orange cones placed on a state highway in South Dakota is evidence of a wrongdoing.

                    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 10:14

                      I guess you just expect everyone to take your word for it. Thanks for stopping by.

            • Al Mackey Oct 6, 2013 @ 19:33

              The open-air monument is closed because without enough rangers on duty there is increased chance of vandalism. Without enough maintenance people on duty there is less ability to clean up after the visitors each day. Without enough employees on duty, there is less ability to take care of visitors who may fall and hurt themselves. There is less ability to answer questions. There are a lot of reasons for closing the monument.

              • Woodrowfan Oct 7, 2013 @ 5:06

                thank you. I was thinking the same thing. Consider everything the Rangers do. We can get by without someone to answer questions, but who cleans up, or takes care of an injured or sick visitor? There are legal restraints on who has jurisdiction so they can’t just put a couple of DC cops there.

              • museumatt Oct 7, 2013 @ 7:32

                And just imagine the outcry from some quarters if garbage and vandalism (or worse) were allowed unchecked and unmitigated long enough for cameras and grandstanding politicians to take advantage of the opportunity to decry the insult to our veterans by all the damage.

                And I know I am indulging in speculation here, but I think it is well grounded in experience.

            • Jackie Clark Oct 11, 2013 @ 11:12

              Have you been to Mount Rushmore? It is really impossible to safely pull off the side of the road and take a photo along that highway (unless you are right in front of the entrance but, I’m sure a lot of parked cars would cause a huge traffic jam or accident). Sure there are some small roads off the highway that you can drive along and stop to get a great picture but, that main highway they’re stopping people from stopping on is a two lane road with mainly trees on both sides.

              That’s more likely the reason why they’re taking those safety precautions.

              • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 12:14

                I had had read that on Drudge. That doesn’t sound unreasonable, though it might be possible to allow picture taking could if State police guided traffic much like they do during road construction.

                I suspect that the biggest headaches (as of today) for the NPS will be the Yellowstone and WW 2 Memorial fiascos.

                • M.D. Blough Oct 11, 2013 @ 14:02

                  Why should it be a fiasco? What part of “We’re closed because just about everyone but as many park police/law enforcement rangers that we can justify are on furlough” don’t people understand? The Yellowstone one was particularly appalling. Trotting out a bunch of senior citizens near a bison HERD? Bison may look cute but they are powerful dangerous animals and people have been killed by bison, including by individual bison, at Yellowstone, even when it’s open

                  • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 15:11

                    Can you rework that sentence beginning with “What part.

                    I’m OK with you calling the NPS’s over reaction appalling instead of fiasco. Fiasco seems less injurious to the reputation of the Service.

                    Your last two sentences make it seem like your advocating limiting seniors (if not all) from viewing Buffs from the road. Do you really believe that?

                    I’ve talked to several Park Rangers about the appalling (your word) overreactions at Yellowstone and the WW 2 Memorial by the NPS. All were disgusted but believe that over time the PS will get back it’s good guy image.

                    • Kevin Levin Oct 11, 2013 @ 15:13

                      Why were they “disgusted”? What exactly did they have a problem with? Do they have any experience working at Yellowstone?

                    • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:13

                      I have several friends in various
                      CW Battlefield Parks throughout the systems. Most of these Rangers are Conservative types, many ex-Military who are extremely knowledgable and actively share their info. Cynical types with plenty of situational awareness they know how people should be handled and the Yellowstone situation was in their opinion just as it is with that of the Public, was handled disastorously. Most viewed the Vallincourt interview, believe it and shook their heads in disbelief. All were sust as upset with the treatment of Honor Fligh Vets, though here they vetted against the top levels of government

                      I don’t know which parks these people have worked at besides their current station.

                      Kev, I would have respomded below your post but the reply button is missing. Are you telling me something!?:)

                    • M.D. Blough Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:20

                      Al-You are deliberately misreading. The reference to Yellowstone being appalling was to the tour operator putting the seniors in harms way, not to the NPS handling of it. I am in favor of the NPS taking necessary steps to prevent humans from being harmed by the wild life and wild life and the parks from being harmed by humans. This required by NPS’s mission, which Congress mandated in the Organic Act establishing the National Park Service in 1916:

                      >>. . .The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified, except such as are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Army, as provided by law, by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.<< 16 U.S.C. § 1

                      I know quite a few NPS personnel and what they are tired of is being used as a scapegoat and having the parks, etc. used for grandstanding by the same politicians who shut down the government, including the national parks, and who are keeping them from doing their jobs. If there were no shutdown, the national parks, monuments, historic sites, etc. would be open. Rangers would be on duty. Visitors would be free to come to the parks, etc. as usual.

                  • Al J Oct 11, 2013 @ 18:06


                    This thread has run its course. It’s time to move on. Thanks for your understanding.


      • Ken Noe Oct 6, 2013 @ 10:13

        Skyline Drive is a winding, mountain road with a 35 MPH speed limit that protects both drivers and wildlife. Take away the rangers, let cars race through unchecked, and people will die. At which point Bachman and Neugebauer will show up and blame Obama for that too. I don’t blame the NPS a whit for closing it. Even someone like Gale Norton, who resigned under the Abramoff ethics cloud to go to work for an oil company, should get that.

        • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 10:15

          Having traveled Skyline Drive extensively I also don’t blame the NPS one bit for closing it.

        • Al Jenkins Oct 9, 2013 @ 19:07

          Ken; are you by any chance am author who has written of a major Civil War battle in Kentucky?

          • Ken Noe Oct 10, 2013 @ 8:10

            I have done that, yes.

            • Al J Oct 10, 2013 @ 8:46

              Enjoyed your Perrryville book very mush.

              Any new “tomes” these days?

              Lastly, I have accumulated a large amount of Primary Source material on the Union Regiments that fought in the Hornets’ Nest at Shiloh. Know anyone who would be interested inwriting a book on that aspect of the Battle? Youreslf, perhaps?

              • Ken Noe Oct 10, 2013 @ 10:42

                I’m happy you liked the book.

                I’m not sure if anyone is working on Shiloh these days, I’m not, but thanks..

    • M.D. Blough Oct 6, 2013 @ 11:53

      Lyle-Norton was a disaster as Secretary of the Interior, including having, as her very powerful deputy secretary, J. Steven Griles. You may not recognize the name but he was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for felony obstruction of justice during the investigation of the Abramoff scandal. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/26/AR2007062601472.html. According to the article, “Griles, who is not cooperating with the federal investigation, was introduced to the now-convicted lobbyist by a girlfriend who ran an advocacy group co-founded by former interior secretary Gale Norton and financed by Abramoff’s Indian tribal clients.”

  • Dave Kearney Oct 6, 2013 @ 7:34

    I truly hope that the ranger who was personally insulted by the grandstanding Neugebauer receives a commendation from both the Service and from NGOs that support our national parks. The commendation maybe should be extended to the veteran who stepped in to give Neugebauer a piece of his mind, too.

    I think Neugebaueer’s type of verbal bullying of a federal employee should be a Hatch Act violation, or, at a minimum, an ethics violation. It sure seems clear to me that Neugebauer was trying to intimidate the ranger into disobeying her chain of command and her duty.


    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 7:37

      Absolutely, on all counts. I hope he is ashamed of his behavior, but unfortunately, I suspect that he is oblivious as to his responsibility in helping to bring about this ridiculous state of affairs.

    • Marian Latimer Oct 6, 2013 @ 13:34

      I think it’s pretty nervy to close down the government then say to the person you have put in a tenuous position that she should be ashamed.

      • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 13:36

        But it may have been an effective way to deflect blame from his own party’s actions onto the National Park Service.

        • Marian Latimer Oct 6, 2013 @ 13:47

          I do notice a great deal of the blame being deflected on the wrong individuals in this now. A valid point. Again, this is a sore subject with me, being a retired civil servant. The ripple effect from this will be felt beyond the NPS. There are local businesses that benefit from the NPS and I’m quite certain that is being stated in those areas. I’ve heard on the news here in the Charlotte area how many lodges and such in the Smokies were booked solid through November, which is when they make their money. Let’s not forget that there are people here from out of the country who have probably planned their trips for years and who now can’t get into these parks.

          I stand with the NPS as well. Stay strong.

          • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 14:00

            Congress should be standing up for the National Park Service rather than opening up opportunities for- and encouraging criticism. This is an agency that has recently been hit hard by the sequester. Many of the units are underfunded already and yet they still manage to do an incredible job. Now the NPS is functioning as a punching bag for outraged businesses caught in the middle of these closures.

  • Karen Quanbeck Oct 6, 2013 @ 5:47

    My son and I volunteer for the NPS and we wholeheartedly agree with the author!

    • Patrick Young Oct 7, 2013 @ 6:03

      Karen, one aspect of the shutdown that is not reported is that we are not only losing the services of dedicated rangers and historians, we are also losing the help that thousands of great volunteers like yourself and your son provide.

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