National Parks Service: 13 Words To Say 'We're Closed'

Sep 30, 2013

Interior formations at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Credit Carlsbad Caverns National Park via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons

There are about 400,000 acres of Public Lands in New Mexico managed by the National Park Service.  If the federal government shuts down, parks like Carlsbad Caverns, Chaco Canyon and the Petroglyph will shut down, too.

Patrick O'Driscoll works with the National Parks Service regional office in Denver. "If, when we report to work, nothing has changed," O'Driscoll explained, "then we would have no more than four hours each to clear our desks and leave. We even shut down our website. That's how far down we go."

Every single National Park Service property would be closed to the public with no exceptions. O'Driscoll said the agency has been planning for a potential shutdown and that worst case scenario details have been laid out, down to the wording they will be putting on signs at park entrances. 

"It's a 13 word message," O'Driscoll said, "'Because of the federal government shutdown, this national park service facility is closed.' Simple as that. If congress does not appropriate and send us the funds we are by law not allowed to continue to operate."

All but 50 workers would be furloughed indefinitely.  Only police and public safety workers would continue to do their jobs.

New Mexico's 13 national parks see over 1.5 million visitors a year and employ about 350 people. Earlier this year, the National Park Services budget was cut by more than 5 percent due to sequestration. In many cases, park access hours were cut.