Parks on ice

This article was reported by staff writers Victoria Loe Hicks and James Salzer.

Status: Closed

Because of the federal shutdown, all Georgia sites operated by the National Park Service remain closed to visitors. In metro Atlanta, that includes Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

Closed means closed

A few National Park Service employees remain on duty to protect the parks and keep visitors out. Anyone caught inside a site may be subject to citations and fines. This week, Pennsylvania news media reported on a jogger who said he was fined $100 for running at Valley Forge National Historic Park. Thursday, Channel 2 Action News reported that a Cherokee County man was detained inside the Kennesaw battlefield park; he was allegedly stealing Civil War artifacts.

Reaction

Critics are accusing the Obama administration of using park closures as a political ploy to make the public feel the pain of the shutdown. On Twitter, tweets using hashtags such as #OccupyAmerica and #YesWeCone urge Americans to push back. In a few places, including Gettysburg and Zion National Park, protesters have openly defied warnings not to enter.

The latest wrinkle

Thursday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the agency is willing to let states re-open some parks, as long as the states pay to operate them. Friday, Utah paid $1.67 million to reopen eight national parks and other sites for up to 10 days.

Georgia’s response

No dice. “The state has not received any correspondence from the federal government on this issue,” Brian Robinson, the spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal, wrote in an email Friday. “While we don’t want to see national parks in Georgia closed, the state is not able to cover the costs of keeping those venues open.”