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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.
The Claude Moore Colonial Farm announced on Wednesday that NPS has ordered it to suspend operations until Congress agrees to a deal to fund the federal government.
According to Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm, NPS sent law enforcement agents to the park on Tuesday evening 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,” she said.
The park withstood prior government shutdowns, noting in a news release that the farm will be closed to the public for the first time in 40 years.
“In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm,” Eberly explained in an emailed statement.
“In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service … I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS,” Eberly said.
The farm is an historical reenactment site, which “authentically portrays the life of an 18th Century American family building a life on the nearer edges of civilized society,” according to its website.
Farm staff repeatedly asked the NPS to allow the farm to remain open. “Every appeal our Board of Directors made to the NPS administration was denied,” Eberly said.
She called the decision “utter crap.”
“We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm,” Eberly explained.
Previous federal funding battles have threatened the farm’s operations. A group of citizens in 1980 formed the Friends of Turkey Run Farm, established a $500,000 endowment for the farm, and negotiated a 30-year no-fee lease.
According to Eberly’s statement, farm staff have been in contact with Reps. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) and Jim Moran (D., Va.) in an attempt to reverse NPS’ decision. Neither congressman returned a request for comment.
News of the farm closure comes as controversy rages over the closure of the World War II memorial on the National Mall.
WWII veterans in Washington as part of the Honor Flight Network stormed the memorial on Tuesday, defying NPS, which insisted that the memorial was legally closed.
More Honor Flight veterans showed up on Wendesday, flanked by members of Congress from both parties. Republican members blamed Democrats for the memorial’s closure, and vice versa.
Some speculated that the decision to close the memorial was part of a concerted effort by the administration to play up the consequences of the shutdown in an effort to convince congressional Republicans to agree to a funding bill without preconditions.
That tactic is known as the Washington Monument Strategy, in reference to efforts by Nixon administration officials to inflate the consequences of budget cuts at the time.