VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The government shutdown is approaching its second week and it is affecting some federally maintained parks here in Hampton Roads.
Exploring Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is an annual adventure for the Birons, who are visiting from New Hampshire.
“The ocean is part of the draw for me,” said Elizabeth Biron. “The fact that this time of year there are very few vacationers, so we pretty much get the whole place to ourselves.”
Their trip always takes them through the trails to False Cape, but with the partial government shutdown affecting national parks, they weren’t exactly sure what to expect.
“We were pretty disappointed when we first learned that it was partially shut down,” Biron said. “We didn’t know quite how it was going to affect us. However, we were pleasantly surprised that they did have a couple of workarounds.”
The workarounds were a portable toilet and signs on trash-cans, asking people to take out what they bring in.
It’s a similar scene at other national parks in the area. There are currently no visitor services at Assateague Island National Seashore on the Eastern Shore. Colonial National Historical park is closed, that includes the Yorktown Battlefield and Jamestown Island Visitor Center. Historic Jamestowne is open, but with limited hours. Fort Monroe is open to visitors, but the National Park Service is not providing services.
Some of the changes aren’t getting in the way of people stopping by, so far.
“See some wildlife and we were excited here at the end and we saw a crane,” said Sean Plunkett, who was walking through Back Bay with his son.
They say the impacts of the shutdown were minimal.
Plunkett said, “To me, it was fantastic, actually having less people sometimes is good, walking around. We had a competition of who could see animals first.”
All of the parks that are open are warning people that visiting is at your own risk and they can close at any time.