National Park Rangers shut down a family-owned and fully-booked inn along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina on Saturday, driving customers away during the peak tourist season.
Bruce O’Connell, the owner of the Pisgah Inn, provoked the park rangers when he reopened his lodge after the Park Service demanded he close his business by Thursday due to the partial government shutdown. The World War II veterans who stormed their barricaded memorial inspired him to take a stand against the federal government, he said.
“It’s conscience and conviction that have taken over me, and I just can’t roll over any more,” he said. (RELATED: WWII vets storm closed memorial as GOP congressman reportedly distracts cops)
In response, the rangers blocked the inn with patrol cars and told customers who had booked reservations months in advance that the “government was closed,” according to USAToday. They also forced 35 of O’Connell’s 100 employees out of their homes and off the federally-leased lands.
“It’s about the visitors. It’s about the staff and employees who are now having to move off the mountain — they live here — with no notice. They have no jobs. That’s the concern,” said O’Connell of his newly homeless, jobless workers.
Another North Carolina outpost, the Peaks of Otter Lodge, folded without a fight after receiving a similar Park Service order.
Chief Ranger Steve Stinnett plans to enforce the directives issued from National Park Service Rangers in Washington, D.C. to keep rangers holding customers and homeowners at bay “as long as they are needed” — in other words, until the government resumes the recently shuttered 17 percent of its functions.
Keeping the rangers ringed around the inn will, according to Stinnet, ensure that “people don’t utilize a business that, according to the federal government, is closed.”
The Obama administration’s decision to deploy federal agents to wall off private businesses costs the tourism industry $76 million per day.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate currently stands at 8.7 percent.