How Can They Close Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park is Closed

By John P. DeGrazio

Today is Day 7 of the self inflicted U.S. government shutdown that has closed every national park in the United States of America. When I moved my family from New York City to California to start YExplore almost a decade ago, I never thought something like this could happen. The premise of my plan was to escape the seemingly chaotic world of the big city to slow things down and live in nature while providing for my family in a sustainable way. We chose Yosemite for so many reasons. The natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains provided the perfect place to enact our business plan. We would share experiences in our amazing national parks with visitors from around the world via guided hikes, family tours, and photo workshops in Yosemite National Park. As many friends have stated, I created an opportunity to “live the dream”.

If starting your own company in a national park is living the dream, then why has this episode become such a nightmare? By now, we all have learned there a some factions in the United States congress who have decided that their missions are way more important than the lives of many of the American people. Further, the rest of congress cannot lay blameless. Neither can the president as we have spent a full week of witnessing our government “leaders” do nothing more than pass blame on each other. As they propose legislation destined to fail and continue to come up with every way not to work with each other, American entrepreneurs are suffering across the country. Not only are 800,000 “non essential” government workers displaced, but so are millions of American small business owners and self employed workers. Congress passed a bill to ensure that any government worker who continues to work during this shutdown will be paid, but there have been no provisions made for private business owners.

The government shutdown would have been calamitous in any other year in Yosemite, but this year it is compounding the effects of the catastrophic Rim Fire that has burned over 400 square miles of our region and essentially closed down a large section of the park just a few weeks ago. Combine that with a two year drought and an isolated infectious outbreak in late summer 2012 in the Valley, and the level of pain we have been feeling over the past 14 months is quickly becoming insurmountable. That is why I continue to ask how could our supposed leaders do this to us?

I am writing this because we desperately need help not only bringing this to the attention of the American people, but also to keep it in the forefront. Regardless of your ideology, this senseless shutdown needs to end. Yesterday. As a government impasse lingers, our fragile economy is damaged. Then again, that is exactly what the architects of this plan had in mind. Please, don’t let this happen. Speak up and speak out. The only way we can end this is if the American people rise up and tell their representatives that we must all find a way to resolve this matter immediately. I am not sitting quietly. My livelihood is dependent on it. Thank you for supporting us throughout the years, and I am hopeful you will share this message by any means possible. I will continue to post updates like this and hopefully organize movements to make a change. Friends and I are possibly planning a visit to our Congressional Representative’s office this week and will keep you posted for an opportunity to join our movement.

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