National park closure is hurting people in Three Rivers

October 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Anger over the government shutdown is beginning to boil over in one South Valley community.

The squabbling over the shutdown will continue into the weekend. The house is expected to approve a measure Saturday, insuring that furloughed federal workers will be paid once the shutdown ends. Lawmakers will then fly home for two days.

Residents from one South Valley town protested outside of Sequoia National Park. The standstill has prompted the closure of all national parks.

Dozens of people gathered outside the main entrance to Sequoia National Park protesting the government shutdown because it's devastated their businesses.

Buckeye Tree Lodge owner Dennis Villavicencio lead a group of Three Rivers business owners on a march towards the entrance of Sequoia National Park.

More than 75 people took part in the protest, holding signs that vented their frustration with the federal government during the current shutdown and budget stand-off that has prompted the closure of national parks. The businesses rely heavily on tourist traffic up to Sequoia National Park.

Leah Launey with Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast said, "And this had to happen and all of a sudden the phone's not ringing, no emails are coming in people are not even thinking about coming."

Maureen Landry with the Log House Lodge added, "I had to lay off my improvements so had to lay off my gardener my yards man, I had to lay off maid. I can't afford it."

"You're breaching a contract this is public land."

And though a couple got rowdier than others, the protest was peaceful.

All the while visitors, many who've traveled all the way from Europe were driving up to the park to find the campgrounds were closed, the park was shut down.

Many people in Three Rivers were near-tears about the thousands of dollars they've lost in just a couple days.

Julie Beale-Van owns the Kaweah River Horse and Guest Ranch. Friday she received her last cancellation for what was expected to be a prosperous six weeks. All reservations for the next 45 days are now gone.

"All of the income we're all losing we're not going to get it back we're not on furlough," explained Julie Beale-Van. "When they resolve it we're not going to get a retroactive check we're just out the money."

The town of Three Rivers is holding a town hall meeting on Monday night at 7pm in their memorial building. The national park service will be there to give out information and try to help in any way they can.


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