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22 NH areas affected by shutdown
With about 1,000 campsites and an average of five campers expected per site, he said, "that's about 5,000 people that can't come."Closure will affect all the area businesses that depend on these visitors, he said. "All the people that have restaurants, or have gas stations or have little stores are going to be hurt because we're shut down."
Marily Reese, executive director of the National Forest Recreation Association, explained why.
Across the country, "concessionaires" such as Tower bid on contracts to run facilities on federal lands, Reese said. From the fees they collect, they pay the government a certain percentage.
than $200,000 annually. No federal money is spent to run the sites, he said.
"All the trucks, all the equipment is ours. They have nothing to do with it."
Reese said the move is political.
In past shutdowns, she said, national forest campgrounds stayed open even when national parks, which are staffed by federal employees, were closed.
"Some braniac in the administration decided they were going to shut down the concessionaires in the national forests, anybody that was operating a government-owned facility."
Reese said her members, who operate facilities on federal lands across the country, have been getting phone calls from officials telling them they have 48 hours to close. Some have already ceased operations.
"Shutting down a contract is a legal, technical issue," she said. "They have to be instructed by letter that there's a change in that contract."
"Basically, it's a power move," he said. "The Forest Service really didn't want to do this.
Reese called the situation "shameful."
Tower said he's already seen the effects of the government shutdown. Tour buses filled with leaf-peepers have been stopping to use his rest rooms since facilities run by the Forest Service were closed last week.
"That was a whole different thing," he said. "That was an emergency. This is not an emergency.
"My feeling is it's a push to make a lot of people upset," he said. "The more people are upset, the more they're going to go scream to their representatives to get this resolved.
He feels sorry for the other local businesses. "We're a close-knit community," he said. "I always want to see everybody do well. Us closing hurts them."
Tiffany Benna, public affairs officer for the WMNF, left a recorded message that she is "on furlough due to the lapse in federal government funding" and would return messages once funding is restored. An email sent to her prompted a similar response.
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