Fort Sumter among many national parks to close if government shutdown happens

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - At 12:01am Tuesday part of the government will shut down unless congress reaches a deal.

A partial shutdown means pay cuts for some workers and closing national parks.

Come Tuesday, visitors at Fort Sumter will not get to board a ferry to see the historic landmark.

Employees for the national park have been on standby.

Tim Stone, park superintendent for Fort Sumter National Monument said, "It's incredibly frustrating. We've been spending the past several days preparing for this potential shutdown. It's tough on employee morale of course, the uncertainty of not knowing if we are going to be working tomorrow or not."

The Fort Sumter National Monument Park also includes Fort Moultrie and the Charles Pinckney National historic site.

"Each park will identify just a few essential employees and that's 3 people hear at Fort Sumter. The rest of the staff which is about 30 employees will all be put on furlough and we have no idea if we'll be paid or not," said Stone.

Employees may see smaller paychecks and the park could also lose revenue.

Stone says at least 600 people take the ferry out to Fort Sumter every day. If they have a reservation they'll be notified, but he says more than half of visitors walk up and buy their tickets. This could be a big loss in revenue for the historic site.

Stone said, "Over 300,000 people a year go out to Fort Sumter and 100,000 visit fort Moultrie. 50, 60 thousand a year visit Charles Pinckney, so we are talking about a lot of people that won't have access to their national parks on Charleston."

The longest government shutdown lasted 21 days ending on January 5th 1996. Park employees are hoping it doesn't happen again.

"Every day without pay, people just like every other person has payments to make so it's a big impact," said Stone.

If the shutdown happens it will end as soon as President Obama signs the spending bill agreed on by Congress.

Since 1977 there have been 17 shutdowns.

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