Government shutdown would close Flight 93 memorial, other national parks

By Vicki Rock Daily American

The Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township will be closed if there is a governmental shutdown.

National Park Service site Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said the site can’t be kept open with only volunteers, although he believes many would be willing to come.

“It will be closed to volunteers and the public as well,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “That includes all five sites in western Pennsylvania.”

The five sites in western Pennsylvania are the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Flight 93 National Memorial, Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Friendship Hill National Historic Site. The last time the National Park System was closed because of a government shutdown was in 1995.

This week and next are historically when the highest numbers of visitors come to the memorial, with the exception of the September 11 anniversary. Typically, 6,000 to 7,000 people come on October weekends, Reinbold said.

“We have a lot of out-of-state bus groups that come in,” he said. “We think they combine their visits with fall foliage tours. Later this week we have 19 buses scheduled to come in on one day.”

That will mean a loss of revenue for local businesses that provide food and other goods to visitors. A study released in 2012 shows that 643,000 visitors in 2010 spent $28 million in the five national parks in western Pennsylvania and in communities near the parks.

In addition to the loss of visitors to the area, 50 National Park Service employees in the five national parks will be furloughed.

People won’t be able to check the shutdown status on the Flight 93 website because staff won’t be available to update the site, Reinbold said.

“If you hear the government has shut down, you’ll know the memorial is closed,” he said

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