If Congress is unable to reach a budget deal by 11:59 p.m. today, Indiana
Dunes National Lakeshore will close.
It actually will close.
National Park Service (NPS) spokesperson Lynda Lancaster told the
Chesterton Tribune today that, while the majority of NPS personnel at
the National Lakeshore would be furloughed under a government shut-down,
rangers necessary “for the protection of life and property” would not be.
“And if they see you out there, on the trails or at the beach, they will ask
you to leave,” Lancaster said. “Because the park is closed.”
“There’ll be people watching the buildings, making sure the park is closed,”
Lancaster added. “Of course, we do remain hopeful that the government will
not shut down but we are making preparations.”
Specifically, under a government shut-down, all parking lots at the National
Lakeshore would be closed, all restroom facilities locked, the Bailly
Homestead and Chellberg Farm placed off limits, and the Paul H. Douglas
Center for Environmental Education in Miller shuttered and all scheduled
weekend activities there canceled.
Portage Lakefront Park, West Beach, and Mt. Baldy would similarly be closed
and their gates locked.
The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center would not be closed—because
the building is owned by the Porter County Commissioners—but no NPS
personnel would be on hand to staff it.
The Dunewood Campground at the National Lakeshore would be closed as well
but the U.S. Department of Interior has instructed NPS to give campers there
48 hours to make alternate arrangements. In other words, campers there at
11:59 p.m. today would have until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday to leave.
In the absence of a last-minute budget deal, Lancaster noted, the
“government will simply run out of funds and it’s illegal for federal
agencies to spend money if there’s no appropriated funds.” Hence the
Federal employees tasked to the “protection of life and property” would be
exempted from furlough, and in the event of an emergency on National
Lakeshore property, folks should call (800) PARK-TIP for assistance,
How long would it take to close the National Lakeshore? “We’ve been given
four hours,” Lancaster noted. “If there is a shut-down, four hours would
probably be sufficient to open the park back up again when it’s over.”
A reminder: Indiana Dunes State Park—State Park—would be unaffected
by any federal government shut-down.