Due to the government shutdown, the National Park Service shutdown a privately funded Virginia park on federal land.

The National Park Service has ordered the closure of a Virginia park that sits on federal land, even though the government provides no resources for its maintenance or operation. [...]

According to Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm NPS sent law enforcement agents to the park on Tuesday morning to remove staff and volunteers from the property.

"You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don't have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money."

Has the National Park Service explained why it needed to spend money to shutdown a park that they provide no government funds to maintain? (If so, what is the reason?)

3 Answers 3


So, I have special knowledge about this. Claude Moore Farm Park is about 15 minutes from my house, and I go there regularly.

The way the park works is this - its technically a "farm park" that is NPS property too small to necessitate regular monitoring. (Balls Bluff, the smallest national battlefield, isn't far away). The property itself is right off of Cascades Parkway, and easily viewable from the road. Very, very few people go to that park for the "farm" - and indeed, the "farm" really is mostly just a wooded lot.

What people do go there for is the County recreation center, which, as you might suspect, is a county run facility. The only way that you can get to that indoor pool is to enter the federal park, along a driveway that is maybe a 1/2 mile long.

Here's the problem - if you get into an accident on that 1/2 mile stretch, the federal government is liable. If you are in the parking lot, the county is.

As I understand the issue, the problem is the liability. Grant you, the feds don't actually patrol - but technically they are liable. By closing the park and restricting access, they are limiting their liability.

The more interesting case would be the GW Parkway, technically a National Park, but in reality the best and fastest way to travel the Potomac River in Virginia. Oddly enough, it remains open.

Does it make sense? Of course not - nothing about this silly shutdown does - apart from the free oil changes and stuff :). But, there is a logic, no matter how silly it may seem.

  • No worries, i couldn't care less if my ansers are downvoted or not. Being downvoted (and upvoted) implies that you are asking a good question that makes some people uncomfortable. +1
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 18:36
  • Is the liability thing your theory (mind you, it sounds plusible) or backed up by some official info?
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 0:40
  • 1
    Regarding liability, lifeguard towers at the beach have a "no lifeguard on duty, swim at your own risk," sign posted. Couldn't the government put up signs and/or barricades that citizens could be free to ignore limiting the government's liability instead of posting guards and threatening arrest to prevent people from entering the park. (Perhaps it is time for some MLK jr. style civil disobedients.)
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 13:24
  • 4
    I don't work in government anymore. Sadly, I learned to think, which made me eminentally unsuitable. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 13:31
  • 2
    I think a better question is why is Rand Paul, Michelle Bachmann, and Fox News so hung up on this rather insignificant aspect of their shut down (Answer: convenient photo opps)
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 15:55

The closing of private sites and parks on leased government land along with guarding access to normally open and unguarded national parks/forests, like the Appalachian trail is due to the Washington Monument Syndrome. Essentially Obama is trying to inflict as much public inconvenience as possible for political gain. This has gotten mixed results, the WWII memorial was a failure of this policy when outrage was sparked sue to the possibility of WWII veterans being barred from visiting the memorial or even arrested if they attempted to.

  • 1
    This is spin. Spin that is used, but still spin.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 14:51
  • 1
    @DA. its not just spin, Clinton didn't barricade dc monuments and memorials last time the government shutdown. dailycaller.com/2013/10/02/…
    – Ryathal
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 18:31
  • 1
    I think your answer is right... but I also think that it lacks the sources that would really give credence to this. I expect you could make a better case by showing the things the government choose not bar, and contrasting them with the things they did bar. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 18:35
  • @Ryathal well, the whole national park thing is spin. Boths sides are spinning it as they see fit. But the issue is that we don't KNOW that's why they are closing it. We can certainly make assumptions. But they're just assumptions.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 18:37

They were directed to by some higher level bureaucrat

According to NPS spokesman Carol Johnson, they didn't want to but were directed to close the WWII memorial. It is likely a similar directive was issued to the park in Virginia.

"Park Service did not want to barricade these, but unfortunately we have been directed, because of the lack of appropriations, to close all facilities and grounds," said National Mall and Memorial parks spokeswoman Carol Johnson.

"I know that this is an open-air memorial, but we have people on staff who are CPR trained, (and) we want to make sure that we have maintenance crew to take care of any problems. What we're trying to do is protect this resource for future generations," said Johnson.

Rand Paul wants to figure out who it was that sent the directive.

Some idiot in government sent goons out there to set up barricades so they couldn’t see the monument. People had to spend hours setting up barricades where there are never barricades to prevent people from seeing the World War II monument because they’re trying to play a charade

Update: House Republicans have opened a probe into the matter, and have requested that NPS director Jonathan Jarvis take steps to protect documents related to the decision

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa is “in the early stages of examining it,” spokesman Frederick Hill told POLITICO. “I don’t think we’ve sent any letters or requests at this point, but they’re possible.”

Senior House Natural Resources Committee Republicans sent their own letter Wednesday to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis to ask him to “take steps as necessary to keep and not destroy documents related to the decision this week to restrict public access” to open-air memorials and monuments in the Washington area, including those honoring veterans of multiple wars, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King.

  • 2
    To quote rand paul makes this entire Q/A sound like a rant.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 15:24
  • 1
    @Chad, an official reason of "we were told to," from a spokeshole isn't a good answer? What would constitute a good answer in your opinion?
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 18:36
  • 1
    @user1873 - That is why the order was executed... but the question is really why the orders were given in the first place. I am not sure it is a constructive question... but it is a good non-constructive question. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 18:38
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    @User1873 - I think we kind of frown on answers that are posted to say I dont know the answer but here is some fluff... That is basically what this answer is. Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 20:41
  • 2
    @DA - Your chatter is just as bad... I dont really feel that way... You on the other hand fully blame one side... who is the blind one here? Take your useless chat comments to chat... Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 21:21

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