Park closure prompts anger in Port Angeles

by: Chris Legeros Updated:


PORT ANGELES, Wash. - You can't get into the Visitor Center at Olympic National Park.

It's closed due to the government shutdown and there is concrete blocking the driveway. On the concrete someone has sprayed the words "Nature Should be Free." 

Port Angeles resident Don Shirey agrees. 

"It shouldn't be closed, it should be open. We should be able to have the right to go up there and visit," he said. "What they're doing to the economy with this shutdown is killing our stores, it's killing our gas stations. We don't have the tourism anymore." 

Outside the Visitors Center in Port Angeles we found couples from Europe who traveled here specifically to visit Olympic National Park only to find it closed. Toni Duss is from Switzerland. 

"Really, we are disappointed, really disappointed," he said. 

Danuta Cybuch and her husband traveled from Poland. She confessed to being "a little more than a little angry" at not being able to visit the park.

Volunteers at the Visitor Center now steer them to other spots, like Cape Flattery, and Port Townsend. The end result is fewer dollars being spent in the Port Angeles area. 

"Instead of them staying maybe three or four days, we might be getting only one or two days out of them," said Chamber of Commerce Director Russ Veenema. 

Some are cancelling their hotel reservations altogether. They include tourists and government workers who can't travel during the shutdown. 

Holly Dempsey manages the Olympic Lodge. 

"We could be down roughly a hundred to two hundred rooms a night," she said.

All of that lost revenue is linked to the government shutdown.


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