SALT LAKE CITY -- Many outdoor enthusiasts thought a fence was the only obstacle keeping them from entering the national parks. The government shutdown has not only closed the public lands but is keeping people out of the parks’ most basic amenities.
The Department of Agriculture closed parking lots, camping grounds, and bathrooms in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons citing a lapse in federal government funding.
“It is surprising when I think about how many different areas of our life and business and recreation too we have a government presence, said outdoor photographer Rick Hepner. “A lot of things we take for granted about that. Up here right now you can't even use the restroom because of the shutdown.”
Many people said they knew the government shutdown was affecting the Forest Service, but didn't think the closures would be noticeable.
“I actually commented on how many cars were parked along the edge of the road,” said hiker Lisa Black.
Outdoor photographer Peter Neddo said there’s a built-in hazard driving through the canyons.
“And having cars on the sides of the road just increases that hazard,” he said.
The shutdown has also impacted destination towns and businesses. Steve Kasper works as a hiking guide in many of Utah's national parks, but since the shutdown he's had to cancel all his tours.
“This is a really important time for people in the tourism industry, not just us as guides, but the hotels and restaurants are all pretty much shutdown,” Kasper said.
Unified Police say it has noticed more congestion in the canyons, but as of now it hasn't increased patrols or ticketing.