Washington: The Statue of Liberty is likely to turn away huddled masses yearning for access, suffering the same fate as the Grand Canyon and other US national parks if a US budget impasse is not resolved by Friday, officials said.
The shutdown would affect site operated by the National Park Service including the popular attractions in the West such as Yellowstone and Alcatraz.
"We hope there will not be a government shutdown. If there is a government shutdown, we will close all of our 394 National Park sites," said Park Service spokesman David Barna.
The agency operates not only parks, but historical sites including the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor and the former Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay.
These sites host an average of 800,000 visitors a day at this time of year.
If they are shut down, rangers in place would turn people away, and in parks where people stay in campsite or hotels, "we will ask them to leave," said Barna.
In a shutdown, the park service would maintain only around 2,000 of its 17,000 employees to protect the sites. Another 15,000 employees of subcontractors such as hotels would also risk layoffs if no budget is approved.
Barna said the economic losses from a shutdown of the sites would amount to some USD 32 million per day.
With the White House and Congress at an impasse over spending, contingency plans have been made for a shutdown of non-essential government services. This could affect some 800,000 federal employees, and sites such as the Smithsonian Institution's museums including the National Zoo.
First Published: Friday, April 08, 2011, 15:45