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Shutdown closes Catoctin Mountain Park

Campers given 48 hours to leave popular recreation area in Thurmont

By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, The Baltimore Sun

1:41 PM EDT, October 1, 2013

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Maryland's Catoctin Mountain Park is closed to the public and 30 park employees have been furloughed as part of the federal government shutdown that began on Tuesday, National Park officials said.

The park closed at noon with just a few roads remaining open for through traffic only. The closure affects all park facilities, ranging from hiking trails to campgrounds to picnic areas.

Park officials said visitors already camping or occupying cabins at Catoctin will be notifed and given 48 hours to pack up and leave. Any reservations made in advance that are scheduled to take place after the shutdown Tuesday at noon will be cancelled. Also, special use permits will not be issued or honored while the park is closed.

Catoctin is one of the 401 parks overseen by the National Park Service and all have been closed as part of the government shutdown. The park service's websites have also been shutdown.

Areas adjacent to national parks rely on tourism to boost the economy and Catoctin Mountain Park is no different. The park hosts nearly 450,000 people each year. Officials said each visitor provides about $32 a day in local spending and that businesses in the Catoctin region, whichi includes Thurmont, stand to lose about $39,000 each day the park remains closed.

Other Maryland parks affected by the shutdown include Fort McHenry, Assateague Island National Seashore and Antietam National Battlefield.

michelle.deal@baltsun.com