Little River Canyon closure brings economic worry to community - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Little River Canyon closure brings economic worry to community

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DEKALB COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

Little River Canyon National Park is one of several federal parks closing due to the partial government shutdown, and its closure is having an impact on some area businesses.

Park officials received their official notice to shut down around 8 a.m. Tuesday. By noon, the park was secured and everyone was out.

At all entrances in to Little River Canyon, there are barricades and a sign informing visitors the park is now shut down due to the funding crisis in the nation's capital. For now, visitors can only get a bird's eye view from the highway of the park.

County officials said October is the third biggest month for the park in terms of tourism due to the fall colors of the trees. The owner of a nearby recreational vehicle park said he relies on the dollars that such tourism brings.

"We're still hoping that people will come into the area for things other than the canyon, but the majority of our business is directly related to the national park," said owner Tim Williams.

Williams expects to see an immediate impact from the park's closure, but if it stays closed for an extended period of time, the economic impact will be felt countywide. DeKalb County Tourism President John Dersham said 300,000 come to the park every year, and when they do, they spend time in nearby Fort Payne as well.

"They buy gas here, they shop here, they eat here, and they stay in hotels here. If it continues on through the winter, it could hurt us tremendously by that point," said Dersham.

Dersham, like many, hopes the shutdown will not be a long-term situation.

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