Government shutdown could close Lincoln Birthplace National Park

Published: Sep. 30, 2013 at 9:08 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 14, 2013 at 10:08 PM EST
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The birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.
The birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.
Bill Justice
Bill Justice
Dolly Kelly and Patty Smith
Dolly Kelly and Patty Smith

HODGENVILLE, KY (WAVE) - With a federal government shutdown looming, the fate of more than 400 national parks hangs in the balance, including ones in Kentucky and Indiana.

If Congress fails to pass an emergency spending bill before midnight, LaRue County's Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park could close to the public. The shutdown would send both visitors and employees packing.

"If there's a lapse in appropriations this park and all other national parks will be closed," said Bill Justice, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Historical Park superintendent.

"We're going to furlough about 20 of our park employees," said Justice. "One of us will remain an accepted employee who will look after the park."

According to Justice, the park will be ordered to shutdown within mere hours of the government shutdown if it is not averted.

"When we get notification from the Department of Interior that we are to shut down, then we will be in the process of shutting down," began Justice. "At that point, well have about four hours to close the park."

Word of park closure threat is not sitting well with tourists like Dolly Kelly and Patty Smith, who traveled to the historic site from Pennsylvania.

"It would have been a shame to come here and have it not open," said Kelly. "That'd be just a darn shame for that to happen. Not only for visitors like us but for all {the} employees that are working here."

"It'd be so senseless to shutdown for a few days while the government gets their head together," said Smith.

Nearly 170,000 tourists flock to the park annually, taking in its roughly 100 acres of scenery, replicas, and seasonal events. Whether the park will close remains in the air as the countdown to midnight ticks on. In the meantime, Justice remains optimistic the shutdown will be avoided, sparing both the park and his career.

"We're, as is everyone, hoping that there won't be a lapse in appropriations," said Justice.

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