Shutdown impacts Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

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The partial government shutdown is just a few days away from being the longest in history and trash has started to pile up at some national parks.

But the Atlanta based nonprofit, Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy, is making sure it doesn’t happen along nearly fifty miles of federal parkland along the Chattahoochee River.

“This a real jewel to be able to come here and enjoy the quiet of the walk or the woods for a few minutes,” said Tim Preece who was among dozens of visitors at Cochran Shoals in Cobb County.

It’s one of 15 park units along 48 miles of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area not being tended to because National Park Service federal employees are furloughed.

“Even if they wanted to come out, they are prohibited from coming out during this situation,” said Bob Ruby, the Vice President of the Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy.

He was picking up someone’s dog waste bags along the running trail at Cochran Shoals.

The lack of park rangers means no collection of fees, the closure of bathrooms, and lack of trash pickup at least by federal employees.

Ruby pointed out a trash can that had been emptied by a volunteer.

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He said since the shutdown began Conservancy volunteers have been busy picking up where federal employees usually would.

“In some cases, it’s not even the normal volunteers, they’re just people seem to be responding to the need,” said Ruby.

Other federal parks in Georgia apparently aren’t doing as well.

“I’ve been to a couple of other parks just this last week and I noticed the gates were closed, the facilities were closed, the water was shut off,” said Preece.

At Cochran Shoals someone brought in four porta-potties, although two were already full. But it won’t be park service employees who’ll pump them out.

Only essential workers, park rangers who are law enforcement officers are working at the Recreation Area without pay until the government shut down is resolved.

“If we’re not going to pay our federal employees during the furlough than the president and Congress shouldn’t get paid as well in fact maybe they should staff the parks and help us keep them running,” said Preece.

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