FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. -- People turned away from the New River Gorge National River's heaviest-used visitor center on Tuesday during the first day of the federal government shutdown had few kind words for members of Congress.
At about 3 p.m., after doors to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center were locked for the duration of the shutdown, park rangers stretched lengths of crime scene tape across the center's access road. At the middle of the makeshift blockade, a sign was duct-taped to a plastic barrel informing visitors, "Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service Facility is closed."
About 100 full-time and seasonal National Park Service employees were furloughed earlier in the day, leaving nine "essential" employees on the job to oversee the 70,000 acres of parkland in the Gorge, plus the Gauley River National Area and the Bluestone National Scenic River.
National Parks across the nation were closed on Tuesday, creating one of the most visible effects of the federal government shutdown. Nationally, about 20,000 National Park Service employees were furloughed, while about 3,000 others remained on the job.
"We're very disappointed in a government that would let this happen," said Julie Mooney of Ashland, Ky., who appeared at the blocked visitor center entranceway moments after it was closed. "They're supposed to be representing us. Instead, they're acting like two bratty kids -- two bratty kids who need their cabooses kicked."
Mooney, her husband Dan and daughter Carley traveled to the New River Gorge area to take in some zip lining. "We heard that the national parks could be shut down, so we called ahead to make sure the zip lines weren't on national park land," she said.
"I'm surprised that what should have been a one-day issue has ended up shutting things down," said Tennessean Bob Huff, also among those who arrived at the Canyon Rim entrance shortly after it closed.