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How the Looming Government Shutdown will Affect St. John

More than two-thirds of St. John is National Park.

Well folks, it looks like a government shutdown is imminent. I’ve received several emails questioning how this will affect St. John considering that more than two-thirds of the island is National Park. I have reached out to the Virgin Islands National Park twice this week, but have yet to receive a response. Here is what I assume will happen based on the past two government shutdowns.

Let’s start with 2013. This one was somewhat comical here. During this shutdown, they actually did shut down the National Park here, which meant that the majority of our beaches were closed and all of our hiking trails were closed. The playground was closed. Annaberg was closed. It was a mess.

Hawksnest was among the beaches closed during the 2013 government shutdown.

The National Park admitted at the time that it was not happy with being told to shut down so much of the island, but it had to follow federal orders. Residents and visitors, however, refused to follow orders. Many ripped down the yellow tape that cordoned off the beaches and parking lots and continued to enjoy our beautiful beaches despite the threat of being fined. Luckily the government allowed the Virgin Islands National Park to officially reopen a few days later, despite the continued shutdown.

There was another shutdown in 2018. During that time, all beaches, trails, and roads remained open. (Roads remained open during the 2013 shutdown too.) During this shutdown, all National Park visitor services ceased. That meant that they had to close the restrooms, there was no trash pickup at the beaches, road, and facilities and maintenance ceased, and the Visitor Center was closed.

Fortunately, Friends of the National Park stepped in and helped open the restrooms and showers at Trunk Bay while the shutdown continued. Volunteers removed trash from all of the beaches too. Residents pitched in because that’s what we do here. 🙂

So if I were a betting woman, this is exactly what I would think will happen when the government shuts down this weekend. The Virgin Islands National Park will remain open, but some of its services will be limited. And volunteers will, once again, step up and work to keep the National Park clean and its facilities available. There’s a reason we’re called Love City, folks.

I will let you know more when I know more. In the meantime, have a fantastic Friday everyone!

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