Possible shutdown looms over Civil War anniversary

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC / AP) - A spokesman for the National Park Service says if there is a partial government shutdown, Fort Sumter in Charleston will close at midnight Friday.

That will also mean the touchstone of Tuesday's 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War will be closed next week.

Park Service spokesman David Barna in Washington says the agency can't keep one site open and close the rest of the nation's almost 400 national parks and monuments. He says if the government shuts down, there is no money for any site.

Barna says the agency will keep only skeleton staffs at parks, which will affect everything from the cherry blossom parade in Washington to next week's events at Fort Sumter.

Some anniversary events not on the National Park Service property will be staged.

The US Department of the Interior released the following statement:

"We still believe that there is the opportunity for Congress to avoid a government shutdown, but are working to prepare for all possible scenarios.

Visitors and potential visitors to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands should be advised that, in the event of a government shutdown, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management will close and secure park, refuge and visitor facilities on public lands.

Visitor activities that require a permit, including public events, will not be allowed or will be cancelled or postponed.  Visitor centers will be closed and access to park areas denied, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Independence Hall, Alcatraz, and the Washington Monument.  Visitors using overnight concession accommodations and campgrounds will be notified and given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements.  The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and some Bureau of Land Management roads will be closed except when they are necessary as thruways.

Limited personnel needed to protect life and property on public lands, such as law enforcement, emergency services and firefighting personnel, will be exempted from furlough.  Some administrative offices for the bureaus will be minimally staffed and many will be closed.  Ordinary business of these bureaus will be extremely curtailed.

The land management agencies will be providing additional information to the public as they finalize their contingency plans."

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