Cumberland Gap park would close

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

If a budget plan is not approved by midnight, the government will shut down. There are several things on the chopping block, including national parks. The one in our own backyard is no exception.

Park officials said this shutdown is much different than the one from the 1990s. That shutdown happened during the winter months. This one could hit the park at their busiest time.

The sights and sounds of the Cumberland Gap greet visitors from all over the country.

"It's nice how it all comes together," said Blake Godard.

Godard and his family visited the Gap Friday from Ohio.
But you don't have to be out of town to enjoy the park's beauty.

"I walk them most every day out here," said Mary Edna Blackmon.

Blackmon lives in Middlesboro and comes to the park to walk her dogs.

"We are preparing for contingency operations should there be a lapse in appropriations," said Mark Woods, Superintendent of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

Woods said his crews are getting ready to shut the doors.

If Congress does not pass a budget by midnight, rangers will have no choice. They will close the park until further notice.

That means the visitor center will close. There will be no access to public trails, and the pinnacle will be off limits.

"For us and the people up here to not be able to get up here and see this because of an impasse, it's just not worth it," said Godard.

Godard said his family is glad they got here when they did.

"If we had missed it by a day or so - significant disappointment," said Godard.

Because this time tomorrow, the chance to see the view from the Pinnacle Overlook, may be gone for now.

Park officials are optimistic they will not have to close.

But rangers say if Congress does not pass a budget, they will begin Saturday morning roping off trails, locking restrooms, and restricting access to the park.

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