California News

Government shutdown: Southern California parks, tourist spots closed

Wednesday, October 02, 2013
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is shown during the second day of the partial government shutdown on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. A closed gate is seen at Angeles National Forest on Oct. 2, 2013. A fire station is seen in this undated file photo.

Southern California is feeling the weight of the government shutdown, with national parks and tourist spots taking the biggest hits.

Signs are posted at all 401 national parks and recreation areas across the country, including Angeles National Forest. Out of the more than 21,000 national park service employees, around 3,700 -- including park police and firefighters -- will remain on the job. The rest will be furloughed.

At the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area, the entrance was padlocked, but there were some people who got around the gate. Hikers found a scenic alternative at nearby Carbon Canyon State Park.

Hikers we talked to had strong opinions about the government shutdown that closed the national parks.

"I just think it's a disgrace. There has to be a way where civil people both on the right end and left - Republicans and Democrats - can come together and solve this," said hiker Steve McManus.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley is also feeling the pinch.

Half of the sights at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library are closed. Despite this, the library still received a couple hundred visitors on Tuesday. Even more busloads of mostly students with pre-planned trips arrived on Wednesday.

What remains absent, though, are the roughly 40 government employees that work the library itself.

"None of them are allowed to be here until the government reopens," explained Melissa Giller with the Ronald Reagan Foundation.

The government owns and operates half of the library, and the Ronald Reagan Foundation owns and operates the other half. The non-government portion is being kept open throughout the government shutdown.

The Air Force One Pavilion is one of the areas still open to visitors because the foundation owns it - not the federal government. So while government employees aren't allowed to show up at the library, visitors still are.

"Got up this morning and headed here and forgot about the closure. Obviously knew it was happening, but I wanted to experience it anyway," said Michigan visitor Paul Frasier.

Since the library with all the Reagan artifacts is closed, the foundation is allowing visitors to tour the rest of the property for free.

"We're very fortunate the Reagan Foundation survives not just by the turnstile of the library but through private donations, so were fine. The organization is not going anywhere," Giller said.

However, the furloughed employees who rely on the government for their paychecks aren't as fine.

"We're hoping it's resolved and they can come back to work soon," Giller said.

Visitors will not be able to see inside of the library, which includes interactive displays, a timeline of Reagan's life and career and the Oval Office replica. However, the Air Force One and Berlin Wall exhibits and the memorial itself are still open to visitors.

For more information, you can visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library's website at www.reaganfoundation.org.

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