Shutdown chokes the non-profit help parks and wildlife refuges

One hundred dollar bills | Getty

At the St. Marks National Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gulf Coast, the Visitor Center has been closed since December 24th. | Getty


14/01/2019 15:55 EST

Updated 14/01/2019, 5:36 pm EST

2019-01-14T05: 36-0500

TALLAHASSEE – People continue to visit national parks, forests and wildlife shelters despite the closure of the federal government, but they do not buy t-shirts or souvenirs because the souvenir shops are closed.

According to a Public Lands Alliance survey, it costs the non-profit organizations that manage these stores more than $ 2 million in revenue from lost sales programs and visitor programs. More than 400 non-profit employees were laid off, laid off or forced to take unpaid leave.

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Teller shops are a small part of the closure, but they have a significant financial impact on the groups that support federal parks and shelters, especially in places like Florida, where tourism resumes activity during the peak months. clement.

According to Susan Cason, chair of the volunteer group that runs the store, the Visitor Center has been closed since December 24 in the St. Marks National Wildlife Area on the Gulf Coast. The profits of the store are used for wildlife and educational programs, including the rental of buses to bring school children to the shelter.

"Everyone who comes to town, to the shelter, stops at the visitor center and buys something," said Cason. "They can not do that now."

Public Lands Alliance Executive Director Dan Puskar said nonprofit groups could lose more employees if the closure gets worse. And the money that would have been collected for the programs will be lost.

"No one in Congress is talking about reviving these organizations," Puskar told POLITICO on Monday. "The fact that you could not sell for three weeks in St. Marks means you never get that income back."

Supporters of St. Marks say visitors miss the real shelter experience with the closure of the visitor center and gift shop as they can not get guides, maps and advice from the shelter staff and volunteers.

These tourists may miss a glimpse of the rare American flamingo or vermilion flycatcher, which have delighted visitors in recent weeks. Nor can they enter the St. Marks lighthouse on the Gulf of Mexico.

"It's so crazy," Cason said of the government's closure. "It's beyond the reason we're closed."

Correction: An earlier version of this report misspelled the name of Dan Puskar.