NC Resisting Shutdown along Blue Ridge Parkway

The National Park Service is getting top headlines for the conflicts it is creating during the government shutdown.  Our North Carolina National Parks are no different.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is open and allowing travelers.  Staffed visitor centers, rest areas and other facilities are closed however, allowing visitors to explore some of the nearby small towns and hopefully bringing some tourism to the small mountain towns. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported a conflict along the Blue Ridge Parkway related to the shutdown, the Pisgah Inn is located along the parkway and National Park Service has told the inn keepers they must shut down and remove all guests.  Here is the entire story:

ASHEVILLE — Pisgah Inn general manager Rob Miller watched the news as World War II veterans pushed past barricades to get to their memorial in Washington.

He got to thinking about his own situation at the business he runs along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The government owns the building and the land. The National Park Service had given him until 6 p.m. today to shutdown and kick out his 78 guests.

He called Bruce O’Connell, the owner of Pisgah Inn, Inc., who is in Mexico. O’Connell had seen the same report about the veterans.

They came up with a bold plan.

“We thought if those guys can do it, we can make a stand,” he said. “We just decided that it is in the visitors’ best interest that we remain open.”

What will happen as the deadline passes today is unclear.

Parkway Chief Ranger Steve Stinnett said Wednesday that Washington was aware of the problem.

“We are in discussions at this time,” he said.

He could not immediately say what steps the government might take to close the 51-room inn.

Miller told guests on Wednesday that the inn would not be closing. He said the response has been great.

He was dreading having to tell people, including one guest who is pregnant, that they can’t use the bathrooms anymore because the government is closed

The O’Connell family has operated the inn since 1977.

It’s one of the few remaining mom-and-pop concessionaires in the National Park Service.

Park concessionaires have been told to close. Lodges have been given the 6 p.m. Thursday deadline to allow them time to get guests out.

Miller called around on Wednesday trying to find other concessionaires who would stand with him but had no luck.

He posted the plan on the inn’s Facebook page, which garnered nearly 190 likes by late afternoon.

People applauded the decision.

“Glad to see that you will stay open,” wrote Mike Stinneford, on the inn’s Facebook page. “I can’t imagine an October without the Inn.”

“Some services are considered ‘essential,’ you fall within that category,” wrote Jane Windle.

Sarah Curry

Sarah Curry is Director of Fiscal Policy Studies at the John Locke Foundation.