National Parks closed due to government shutdown

By: Melissa Randall

Twitter: @MelissaARandall

Tourists who showed up to the visitors center at the New Bedford National Historic Whaling Park were turned away Tuesday morning. The 12 park rangers were unavailable to help due to the government shut down that went into effect over night.

“We came in this morning to basically just go through our shutdown procedures, issue employee furlough notices, make sure everything here is set and then we'll be going home,” said Jennifer Nersesian, the parks' superintendent.

The interruption to government funding is putting a damper on planned trips for out of state visitors like the Zabel's who came to New Bedford from Birmingham, Alabama to learn about whaling. The couple says they were disappointed to find the center shuttered, and say the shutdown could have been prevented.

“If they [law makers] could just stop acting like children and fighting and squabbling over petty things and get to business,” said Chris Zabel.

Visitors are still able to go to the national park, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum, which is separate from the historical park, is open.The non-profit is hoping the ripple effects don't hurt their bottom line.

“We do worry, and are concerned that visitors that ordinarily would have shown up at the visitors center will not find their way to the whaling museum,” said Arthur Motta, the museum's director of marketing and communication.

Tourists are concerned that this is just the beginning.

“This is just symptomatic. This is just a national park, which is wonderful, but it's not a life or death situation. Now I'm more concerned with all the other things that are shut down,” said Pauline Delaar of Plymouth, Mass.

Park rangers say they are waiting to find out what happens next just like everyone else.

(C) WLNE-TV 2013