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Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park officials announce plans for shutdown

10:30 PM, Apr 8, 2011   |    comments
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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has announced what would happen if the federal government is shut down Friday at midnight.

Nearly the entire park would be closed beginning Saturday, April 9, including visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, concession operations, restrooms, and all roads, with the exception of the Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee.

Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) would remain open to through traffic only. No stopping or parking along the road or at trailheads and overlooks would be permitted, and all restroom facilities would be closed, including those at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn., the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, and Newfound Gap.

The Clingmans Dome Road which is accessed off Newfound Gap Road would be closed.

Discover Life in America is searching for new species in the park and cataloguing them.

They held the annual Salamader Ball Friday night at Ripley's to celebrate their progress and raise money.

If the government shutdown happens they will be unable to get to their offices which are in the park or continue their research until it re-opens.

"We are a partner with the park, we work really closely with the park, so we wont be able to do some of the things we are doing, until that is all resolved, we will continue our event, and still do our research and plan as we do," said Director of Discover Life in America Todd Witcher.

The group has discovered over 900 previously undiscovered species in the park.

A shutdown would also impact a music festival in the Smokies. "Music of the Mountains" started on Friday in Townsend.

The festival features free old time music performances and it is scheduled to continue Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sugarlands Visitors Center.

Since the visitors center is inside the park boundary, it would move to the Smoky Mountain Visitor's Center in Cosby only if a shutdown happens. Cosby would continue to host the event on Sunday.

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