Orlando-area national parks impacted by government shutdown

Canaveral National Seashore open, but park rangers aren't working

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - The Orlando area is feeling the ripple effects from the government shutdown at local national parks, national wildlife refuge sites and along the Space Coast.

Orange cones are blocking part of the entrance to the Canaveral National Seashore.

"There was a closed sign on the booth that we don't have to pay to come into the park because nobody is manning it right now," visitor Diane Lorenz said. 

News 6 was there as park rangers posted signs at the entrance gate and ranger center that read in part, "Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, the National Park Service (NPS) is unable to fully staff the properties under its management. It is not feasible to close or otherwise prohibit all access to NPS properties."

Visitors are allowed to enter the park during the government shutdown, but park rangers won't be working or maintaining the facility. According to the notice, that includes collecting trash, operating bathrooms, or helping visitors.

"Can't ask questions or get a map or know where we're going or any information," Lorenz said. 
Park officials tell News 6 about 60 full-time and temporary employees at Canaveral National Seashore won't be working during the shutdown. 

Just a few miles down the road, the gates are locked at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. 

Several drivers pulled in and were surprised to see the facility closed. They were forced to turn around.

"The government does everything. Why take away national parks and stuff? I think the government stinks," visitor Sonia Yaroma said. 

Many visitors were frustrated, but they are still trying to enjoy the beach and wildlife while they can.

Everyone said they're hopeful politicians in Washington can figure out how to fund the government and let nature take its course. 

"I hope it gets up and rolling and they can control everything and get things going again," visitor Cindy McCormick said. 

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open during the government shutdown. Officials tell News 6 all attractions at the visitor complex remain open, as well as the Kennedy Space Center bus tour, which will continue taking guests onto the Kennedy Space Center and the Apollo/Saturn V Center.

Special interest tours, including the Explore Tour, Launch Control Center Tour, and Early Space Tour are temporarily suspended starting Saturday due to the government shutdown.

"Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is monitoring the situation very closely and will resume tours when the situation is resolved," officials said in a statement.

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