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Sidestepping the government shutdown

Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans

Sometimes, the government just doesn’t know when to stay out of the way.

If you think the federal government shutdown just means government employees can’t go to work, you’re sorely mistaken. This has a big impact on travelers.

Let me run down the list of names for some of the agencies and institutions affected by the shutdown.

The Smithsonian Institute.

The National Zoo.

The National Park Service.

NASA.

The National Portrait Gallery.

The National Archives.

What do they all have in common? They all operate at least one tourist attraction in America, and all of those attractions are now closed because of the government shutdown.

The general rule of thumb people have been using to explain which D.C. area museums are closed: “If it’s free, it’s probably closed.”

No you may be thinking, “What do I care is stuff in Washington D.C. is closed?” That’s true — unless you were planning to visit a national park, the National Archives at Atlanta, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida or Space Camp in Alabama.

All of that is closed, and in Georgia alone, that entails a lot of sites.

Fort Pulaski near Savannah? Closed.

Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield? Closed.

The Ocmulgee National Monument near Macon? Closed.

The Cumberland Island National Seashore? Can’t get there because the park service ferry can’t run during the shutdown.

By now, you get the picture of how this shutdown impacts tourism in Georgia. There are about 13 national park sites in the state. At least one of those sites, Fort Frederica on St. Simon’s Island, dates back to Georgia’s early days as a British colony.

You can’t even get a list of Georgia national parks from the National Park Service right now. The service’s website has been, well, shutdown by the shutdown. If you try to visit it, you’ll be re-directed to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s website.

But the situation gets a little confusing where one collection of historic sites is concerned. The National Park Service runs the historic, original Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher. It also runs his birth home as a museum.

Both of those facilities, as well as a MLK Historic Site visitor’s center are closed because of the shutdown. Now, you might think that means the King Center is closed as well because all of these other MLK sites around it are closed.

You would be wrong.

The King Center is run by the King family, and is separate from the National Park Service-run sites. Therefore the King Center is not affected by the shutdown, and is still open.

There’s no doubt, however, that there will be some people who think it’s closed because the other sites are closed.

So what’s a Georgia resident to do with all of these shuttered national parks? Well, there’s always the state parks. They are still open since Georgia’s government is not in any danger of closing up shop.

There are 63 state parks in Georgia, and they want you to know they are still open despite the shutdown.

“Because the federal government shutdown is in the news, we wanted to clarify that Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites are operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, rather than a federal agency,” state officials wrote on gastateparks.org. “All of our state parks and state historic sites remain open and welcome you to visit.”

The Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site in Cartersville is an example of a state park that continues to be open and accepting visitors. The Fort King George Historic site in Darien and the Fort McAllister Historic Site in Richmond Hill are also still open.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the nation’s president for 12 years. His Little White House in Warm Springs is a state park, though, so it’s still open.

Some local state parks that are open include Panola State Park in Stockbridge, High Falls State Park in Jackson and Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla. There’s also the Jarrell Plantation Historic Site in Juliette, just south of Flovilla and Jackson.

So, while the nation’s leaders try to figure out how to run a government, keep in mind that the fun didn’t shutdown as well.

You just have to look a little closer to home to find it.