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Shutdown on the minds of hikers at Big South Fork

The visitor centers at the park are closed and trash is not being collected.

As the government shutdown stretches into its second week, parks run by the National Park Service in East Tennessee are feeling the impacts. 

Trash is not being collected, restrooms are all closed, and the visitor centers have their doors locked until the shutdown ends. 

At the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, hikers in one of the most beautiful parts of our area have the shutdown on their minds. 

"That is a nice thing about the park. If something happens, you can call for help. Right now, that’s probably not possible," said Rita Rosshirt, a hiker walking with her dog. 

While rangers and law enforcement will still respond to emergencies, the staffing in the park is far lower than usual. 

Signs at the park headquarters Tuesday warned visitors of the closures and the restrooms stood locked and out of service. While trash is not yet piling up at bins around the park, the waste is not being emptied during the shutdown. 

Signs of policies made in Washington impacting even the most serene parts of East Tennessee.

Still, the government shutdown didn’t stop hikers from celebrating the new year outside.

"I think whatever you’re doing the first day of the new year hopefully you do the rest of the year," said Rosshirt. 

Big South Fork does not have organizations to privately fund visitors centers like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It also sees far less visitors every year.