Americans Enter Closed National Parks in Civil Disobedience

Image: Americans Enter Closed National Parks in Civil Disobedience

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 11:46 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Americans across the country are practicing civil disobedience by entering closed national parks and federally owned land in defiance of the government shutdown, some facing citations for their violations.

From Arizona to Washington, D.C., Americans — inspired by veterans who pushed through barricades around the national World War II Memorial in the nation's capital on the first day of the shutdown — are moving barricades and orange cones aside in order to see some of the country's most famous landmarks, The Washington Times reported.

For some, however, their actions have come at a cost. Nearly two dozen people who decided to go into Grand Canyon National Park were cited for entering while it was closed.

One area hotel is giving sightseers directions on how to see the Grand Canyon without going into the park.

"We have people that are outraged — people from other countries who have spent considerable time and money to get here, you know, the Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world," said Matt Rich, one of the family which owns the nearby Jacob Lake Inn. "When we make them aware there are other views they can see from Forest Service land, they come back and hug us because we saved their vacation."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has offered to reopen the Grand Canyon park with state funds, but was told by the park superintendent that the government cannot accept her offer.

Some question the reasoning behind closing off open-air monuments such as those on the National Mall that have no formal entrances that need an employee to collect entrance fees and provide other necessary services.

"We've gone from 'This land is your land, this land is my land,' to the government saying this land is its land," University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds told The Christian Science Monitor.  "President Obama said that government is just a word for the things we do together. Apparently that includes kicking WWII veterans off their memorial."

Citations also have been issued by park rangers at other national parks, including the Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania and Acadia National Park in Maine. However, according to the Monitor, several are asking if park rangers have the authority to remove, fine, or arrest trespassers.

Some of the efforts to keep people from entering or even seeing certain landmarks almost seem spiteful, Reynolds said.

At the famous Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, pull-off areas along a public road were barricaded, preventing sightseers from viewing monuments without entering the park. And the decision to close the World War II Memorial came directly from the White House.

U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday protesting the closure of popular hunting grounds and fisheries just as the hunting season begins. USSA president Nick Pinizzoto said that these lands were not closed when the government shut in 1995.

"These lands are generally accessible to the public without special entrance fees, passage through gates, or access via controlled roads or waterways," Pinnizzoto said in a statement.

"Not only are these closures unnecessary, they run contrary to law. This is 'political theatre' at its very worst."

Related Stories:
U.S. Loses $1.6 Billion From Shutdown, Costing $160 Million a Day
Veterans Monument Shutdown Beyond Petty

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