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Kentucky Parks, Services Remain Shuttered During Budget Stalemate


As the partial government shutdown nears the two-week mark with no end in sight, Kentuckians and tourists seeking parks and other services are out of luck. 

"Thank you for calling Mammoth Cave National Park," a voice greets callers. "Due to the lapse of appropriations and the subsequent partial shutdown of the federal government, Mammoth Cave National Park will no operate cave tours, provide visitor services, or operate the Green River Ferry..."

Down the road at the Abraham Lincoln's birthplace in Hodegenville, travelers are warned that there will be "no national park service provided... including restrooms, trash collection, facilities or road maintenance." 

These are the messages callers to national parks, including Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River, are hearing when they seek information. Portions of some parks remain open, though tours and other services are on pause.

Richard Villalobos, from Chicago, told WBKO he decided to trek parts of Mammoth Cave National Park anyway.

"We knew parts of the park weren't going to be open, but honestly pulling up here today and seeing it almost like a ghost town... just coming here was a bit shocking," he said. 

Meanwhile, small business owners seeking federally assisted loans and Kentucky farmers looking for help in signing up for new programs under the 2018 Farm Bill are also waiting in line. 

And the wait could awhile, with no sign of thawing relations in Washington. The new majority House Democrats have been promising action on a bill to reopen the government, but Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell chalked it up to “political theater.”

"The Senate will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of passing this chamber and getting a presidential signature," the majority leader cautioned. 

The postal service, air travel and security, Amtrak, and social security benefits remain online despite the ongoing budget standoff.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.