The government shutdown lasted more than a month, and it affected North Dakota’s biggest tourist attraction, but this week the employees at Theodore Roosevelt National Park returned to work
More than 20 employees returned to work Monday at Theodore Roosevelt Nation Park, after toughing out the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“It was over the Christmas holiday . . . in addition to the uncertainty of not knowing when it would end,” said Eileen Andes, TRNP chief of interpretation and public affairs.
Andes said after being off for 35 days she and others are glad to be back at work punching the time clock.
“Happy to be back. Happy to be talking to visitors. . . and back to work. It feels really good”.
If there is a silver lining to the government shutdown, it is that it happened during the slow time of the year for Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
“We didn’t”t have issues with vandalism, trash, or things like that,” said Andes.
In recent years the park has seen more than 700,000 visitors annually, but in the last two years, less than one- percent of that has come in the month of December.
Andes said during the shutdown the park was able to be monitored by a park ranger with some additional help.
“We also called in some maintenance workers to do things like plow roads and empty trash”.
While other National Parks like Joshua Tree had reports of vandalism and littering, Andes said TRNP looks good, and there is only one big thing that needs immediate addressing.
“The first thing we focused on was getting our people paid. We worked on payroll yesterday(Monday). They should see some money coming into their bank accounts by the end of this week”.
Andes said right now the park is preparing for the Summer season, and they are almost right on schedule.
Currently, the only parts of the park that are closed are the scenic drives in the North and South Unit due to road conditions, but Andes said the closures are typical for this time of the year.