October 2, 2013
RALEIGH — North Carolina’s state-run attractions are open to the public during the federal shutdown.
The North Carolina Zoo, all state parks and recreation areas, three state-run coastal aquariums and a pier, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, and the state’s coastal reserves remain open to visitors, officials with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced. The department operates these attractions, and officials at DENR also announced that state and local beach access sites remain open, even though the national seashores in North Carolina and other federally run facilities are closed due to the federal shutdown.
“We hope Congress and the president can come to some amicable resolution so federal attractions and facilities can reopen soon,” said John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “However, we want to let everyone know that all state-run attractions, many of which are run by staff in our agency, are open and will not see any short-term effects from the federal shutdown.”
More than 400 permanent positions in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources are partially or fully funded by the federal government. However, most of those employees can continue to work for now for various reasons, such as federal funding being on a multi-year cycle for some programs. As of Wednesday afternoon department officials said furlough of some employees was expected but they are still working to finalize the list of affected employees.
“This is an unfortunate situation for these employees, their families and the people who rely on the valuable work they do to protect our environment and natural resources,” Skvarla said. “In the meantime, DENR management are reassigning staff to make sure we will continue to carry out our most critical environmental needs and responsibilities.”
Skvarla also said that should the federal shutdown become extended, additional furloughs might prove necessary.