Rangers will close the gates to the nation's most visited national park at 8 a.m. Tuesday if Congress cannot reach an agreement to avoid a government shutdown.
There are few people who would not feel the impact of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park closure in mountain towns like Townsend. R&R Fly Fishing is one of them.
Mother Nature slowed down their business this spring and summer with wet weather causing river levels to be too dangerous for fishing. Now that the weather is improving, the government is getting in the way of a successful fall season.
"When something like this happens it pulls the rug out from underneath you," said Ian Rutter, owner and guide for R&R Fly Fishing in Townsend.
He and his wife, Charity, rely on the park to make a living and provide for their two children as guides for fly fishing. If the government shuts down Tuesday, they will not be able to take customers to the national park, their number one most requested fishing destination.
"It's one of the top wild trout destinations in the eastern United States. Because it has 800 miles of trout stream, it's a big destination for fly fishers across the country," Ian said.
"October is one of the biggest months of the year," said co-owner and guide Charity Rutter.
The Rutters said their customers plan their vacations months in advance.
"We may end up having to refund a number of deposits while at the same time not being able to take people fishing and bring in any balances as well," Ian said.
They are hoping if the government shuts down, it will not last for 21 days, as it did during the 1996 shutdown.
"Imagine not getting your paycheck for weeks in a row," Charity said.
It's not something they want to think about with the cost of two kids and a household to support.
For now, they are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
"I would like to see as much resolution as possible and not see this come up again in the next month or two or next spring," said Ian.
The Rutters said they can fish in other parts of East Tennessee but the park is the only place for wild trout.