Posted: Oct 14, 2013 10:21 PM by Keele Smith - MTN News
Updated: Oct 14, 2013 10:28 PM
GARDINER - There is no denying that communities around Yellowstone National Park are feeling the impacts of the park being closed to visitors.
On Sunday, members of the Gardiner community gathered at the North Entrance of the park to send a message for leaders in Washington D.C.
Jenna Hanson and her family came to Yellowstone all the way from new Hampshire.
"I was very disappointed, this is our sixth time coming out," Hanson said.
Hanson took part in Sunday's protest rally because she wants to see the park open again.
"The people that work here need to do their job and the people who are visiting, some people- it's a once in a lifetime thing," she said.
Communities around Yellowstone National Park, like those in Gardiner, are taking a major hit due to the government shutdown.
And even though the season is winding down, it's still an important time for business.
The organizer of the protest, Leah Kautz said, "We've had local businesses in town report that 20 percent of their annual income comes in the month of October. Between our residents and businesses, we've seen six figure losses in the 13 days since the shutdown started."
Alex Roberts, Manager at the Raven Grill in Gardiner says, "We closed a week early, we probably should have closed when the shutdown happened. We lost 90 percent of our business the first day."
It's not just the Raven Grill that is struggling however.
Roberts said, "The first day of the shutdown went from 60 to 15 reservations. I mean people just cancelled their vacations and stopped coming. It's like a ghost town."
And while Park Rangers are the ones turning people away, it doesn't mean they are okay with the situation.
Deputy Chief Ranger at Yellowstone, Nick Herring says, "I think it's a travesty to all of the local communities that depend on the livelihood surrounding Yellowstone National Park. And I think it's inconciable that Congress would allow this to happen for no reason."
And that is precisely why the locals are trying to send a message.
Kautz says, "Congress needs to start talking and stop using national parks as pawns for whatever battle their fighting. We don't want to lose our income, we don't want to see our unemployment go up because they can't agree on something. We want our parks back open and we want our government back open."
Protesters were also at the East Entrance to the park in Cody, rallying in support of reopening the park.