WNF reopens to publicPublished 11:42am Friday, October 18, 2013
Wayne National Forest reopened Thursday as Congress approved a budget deal that ended the shutdown of the federal government.
The government shutdown lasted 16 days and resulted in the temporary closing of national parks, monuments and memorials across the nation. Many government employees were left without work during the closings, including the nearly 20 employees at Wayne National Forest.
“We’ve got about 20 employees here at Wayne,” said Tim Slone, a Ranger at Wayne National Forest. “They were all excited to get back to work and just get back into the routine of life.”
The Wayne National Forest offers hiking, biking and ATV trails along with hunting, fishing and camping opportunities that draw thousands of visitors annually. Slone says those visitors were also excited to hear that operations at the forest would be beginning again.
“When the news hit that the shutdown was over, we were flooded with calls wanting to know when we’d be open,” he said. “People are excited to be able to come back into the park and enjoy everything we have to offer here.”
The Wayne National Forest plays a major role in the Lawrence County economy that exceeds its place as a local tourist attraction.
“We play a really big role in the local economy” said Slone. “Not only do we serve all the tourists throughout the year, but we also set up contracts for timber sales and similar endeavors that all generate revenue in the local area.”
The Ironton Ranger District of the forest was reopened to full capacity by Thursday afternoon. The Athens Ranger District is expected to resume complete operations by Friday evening.