PORT ANGELES, Wash. — National parks in the state of Washington have been closed since the federal government shutdown began Oct. 1. One Port Angeles teacher found that out the hard way this weekend.
The Olympic National Park is a favorite spot for Kelly Sanders and her family.
“Marymere Falls, we go almost every weekend. The lake, we go almost every day in the summer,” she said Tuesday. “It’s our backyard.”
“I didn’t see anything saying I could not,” she said. “When I got to the park, there was a partial barricade. But there was a full lane open.”
There was a sign on the barricade, but Sanders was confused by the use of the word “facility.”
“I thought that meant the gift shop and the restrooms and the ranger station — I didn’t think it meant the waterfall and the path. It didn’t occur to me that I was breaking the law, at all.”
But within minutes, a park ranger showed up and wrote her and several other visitors $125 tickets for “violation of closure.”
“I actually wanted to look it up to see if it’s a real law I violated, or if it’s just to communicate a point,” Sanders said.
Sanders doesn’t blame the ranger. She says it’s the lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who are responsible for the federal shutdown.
“I really would like them to know they’re affecting so many people.”
She was supposed to take some sixth-grade students on a field trip to the park next week, but now she doesn’t know if that will be possible.
“Even stepping foot into the national park at this time is not OK. I hope it will be soon.”
Sanders said she is going to go to court to fight the ticket. Even if she doesn’t win, she said, it’ll be a learning experience for her and her students.