THE SHUTDOWN: DAY 3: Olympic National Park nearly devoid of people
Lake Crescent Lodge
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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All overnight visitors must leave the park by 6 tonight, due to a partial federal government shutdown that closed the recreational area to incoming traffic at 9 p.m. PDT Monday.
Fewer than 10 campsites in the park's 11 campgrounds were occupied as of noon Tuesday, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said.
Fewer than 10 of 55 rooms at Lake Crescent Lodge, which lies inside the park, were occupied as of noon Tuesday, said a Lake Crescent Lodge supervisor who was not authorized to speak for the facility.
And by 6 tonight, the park's 134-employee workforce will be reduced to 31 rangers, maintenance people and other critical staff while the rest are on unpaid furlough, as President Barack Obama and Congress wrestle over how to restart the federal government.
The Lake Crescent Lodge supervisor said employees made concerted efforts to find lodging at other nearby establishments, including at Lake Quinault Lodge, which is inside Olympic National Forest, not the park, and remains open.
Guests, who came from all over the world, were understanding and did not seem mad at the lodge's 80 employees or the park, the supervisor said.
About 44 of the lodge's 55 rooms were full when the lodge got the word earlier this week that guests had to leave by today.
“They seemed to understand who they should be mad at: the Senate and the Congress,” the supervisor said.
“We've been encouraging the guests to write to the Congress.
“The best we can all hope for is for it to be quickly resolved and get back to normal.
“For the employees, who [won't be] getting paid, it's a devastating situation.
“That's a direct impact to the community.”
Dave Freireich, a spokesman for Aramark Inc., which owns Lake Crescent Lodge and Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort inside the park, did not return calls for comment about the shutdown.
Duncan Allinson, Sol Duc's general manager, referred all queries to Aramark.
Olympic National Park is the country's seventh most visited of the country's 59 national parks, according to the National Park Service.
“We have very few people in the park now, which is understandable given the weather we been having recently,” Maynes said.
Visitors were given 48 hours from 6 p.m. Tuesday to leave.
“Our rangers staff is out explaining things and [has] been contacting people in the campgrounds and letting them know [today] is the end of the 48 hours,” she said.
Of the 31 employees remaining on duty, 14 law enforcement rangers will patrol the 960,000-acre park full time with assistance from two dispatchers who will work in shifts.
If they find people in the park after the deadline, they will just ask them to leave, Maynes said.
The Lake Crescent Lodge supervisor said the park had notified the lodge that visitors had to leave by 3 p.m. today, but Maynes said there was a mix-up because shutdown orders came from Washington, D.C., in a different time zone.
“What we are doing is holding to 6 p.m.,” Maynes said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 02. 2013 7:12PM