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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Closing local tourist sites seen as bad for economy

  • For over a week, the United States government has been shut down, with impacts felt in varying degrees and ways across the nation. Locally, Grey Towers National Historic Site, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the two National Park units- on the Upper Delaware and Middle Delaware- were still closed as of Oct. 10.
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  • For over a week, the United States government has been shut down, with impacts felt in varying degrees and ways across the nation. Locally, Grey Towers National Historic Site, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the two National Park units- on the Upper Delaware and Middle Delaware- were still closed as of Oct. 10.
    Planned programs at these locations have all been cancelled or postponed, or still await the eventual word that the facilities may open again.
    "There is an extremely negative impact," said Philly Viscardo, President of the Board of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, "There's no question."
    Tourists planning to come up during the height of the fall foliage season and unable to get into Grey Towers or visit National Park facilities such as Zane Grey Museum at Lackawaxen and Childs Park in Dingmans Ferry, will find themselves disappointed.
    Last Sunday, Viscardo happened to observe a long line of vehicles parked along the road at the entrance to Childs Park, where their occupants may have found their own way in- by foot.
    Law enforcement park rangers remain on duty. The Park Service issued the following update concerning the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: "While closure contacts by the law enforcement staff remain frequent, all of the contacts have been resolved through education and verbal warnings."
    Viscardo noted that there will be a definite ripple affect on the local economy, with popular tourist destinations cut off. "All of the businesses feed off each other," she said. "They come up and they eat, they stay overnight, they shop..." What the economic loss locally would be is not known, but she said when someone comes up with a number, it will make people a lot more angered.
    A statement released by the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on October 1st read,
    "The park will be CLOSED. No recreational activities will be permitted during the shutdown. All facilities including trails, buildings, the river corridor and all access points, picnic areas, beaches, and partner-operated facilities (such as PEEC, Peters Valley Craft Center and Mohican Outdoor Center) will be closed. The whole park is CLOSED. Route 209 in PA and Route 615 and Old Mine Road north of Millbrook Village in NJ will remain open. All other park roads, including River Road, will be closed. All NPS websites and social media sites will be shut down. Millbrook Days, scheduled for October 5 and 6 is cancelled."
    Law enforcement rangers at both the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River are exempt from the furlough and remain on duty. The 24-hour emergency communications center at the Delaware Water Gap will continue to operate during the shutdown.
    "We have no idea how long the shutdown will be in effect. In the event of a prolonged shutdown, other scheduled events will be cancelled if necessary," said Kathleen Sandt, of the Delaware Water Gap, on October 1st.
    Page 2 of 2 - Viscardo urged the public to respond to the federal shutdown when it comes time to vote. She advised people to register to vote, and if they are not happy with how their legislators have handled the shutdown, then when it comes time for re-election, vote them out.
    The Chamber of Commerce, she stated, is a non-political organization. "We just want the government back open," she said.
    *** Grey Towers events
    Although Grey Towers is currently closed to the public, the non-profit Grey Towers Heritage Association is seeking to promote planned events in hope that public sites re-open in time.
    The Grey Towers Heritage Association was formed in 2006 to assist the U.S. Forest Service in the wise use of the Grey Towers National Historic Site at Milford. The Association is run by a volunteer board of directors.
    Molly Breitbach, representing the Association, issued reminders of the following events:
    • Annual autumn landscape tour of Grey Towers National Historic Site, Saturday, October 19 at 1:30 p.m.
    "Evolution of the Grey Towers Landscape: Autumn in Cornelia's Gardens," will feature the fabulous foliage displays of the native shrubs, the Japanese maple, and the European Copper Beeches planted by Gov. Gifford Pinchot, among other favorites. Trail walkers may request a brochure or use mobile devices to scan QR codes on signs, to learn more about different trees. Grey Towers Horticulturist Elizabeth Hawke will discuss how the landscape plants, trees and buildings were incorporated in the design of the 1886 Pinchot family mansion.
    • A walking tour of Laurel Hill Cemetery at Grey Towers is planned Sunday, October 27 at 1:30 p.m. Regular tour fees will apply. Participants should meet in the Visitor Pavilion and wear comfortable walking shoes for the short hike to the historic graveyard. Information will be provided about members of the Pinchot family and others interred there, and how a cemetery can illustrate a community's history.

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