Fla. opts not to reopen national parks

St. Augustine tourists disappointed; businesses notice confusion

By Scott Johnson - Reporter
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Castillo de San Marcos

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Some national parks are reopening even while the government remains shutdown, but not in northeast Florida.

Kim and Greg Hoenaker were in St. Augustine from Tennessee on Monday, somewhat disappointed they couldn't visit Castillo de San Marcos but not totally shocked.

"We kind of figured so," Kim said. "Made our trip down here when government shut down. We figured it would be shut down."

"I thought it was kind of funny that they was saying it's never been taken in battle, and I guess it takes the U.S. government to shut it down," Greg said. "That's what I was thinking."

Stella Galdamez and her husband were shocked because they came a much further distance expecting to visit the fort, one of many national parks and monuments in the area closed during the government shutdown.

"We didn't know this park would be closed. We thought it was private," said Galdamez, who traveled from Peru. "It's terrible."

Florida isn't following in the footsteps of Arizona, which has reopened the Grand Canyon, or South Dakota, which has reopened Mount Rushmore. Those states, along with a few others, received the OK from the Obama administration to use state funds to reopen parks.

Florida didn't sign on, and at nearby businesses like the Oldest Wodden Schoolhouse in St. Augustine, the only effect it's seen is confusion from tourists, not sure what's government property that's shutdown. So the business has made its open signs very visible.

"Nobody knows that we're privately owned," Jerry Hall said. "People think that the government or state owns us. They don't. We're privately owned."

A lot of people are not visiting these parks. Some numbers have been released and estimate 700,000 people who usually would be are not visiting parks each day during the shutdown.

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