Eberly says that individuals and families saved the farm when the NPS zeroed its budget in 1980, so there is no need for the service now to shut it down or barricade its facilities, as it is doing. The NPS claims, in its actions at the World War II Memorial in Washington this week, that it doesn’t want to go around closing monuments and parks, but it is taking these actions because it is worried about staffing and security.
Eberly’s response is as clear as can be. “What utter crap. We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing.”
So the Claude Moore Colonial Farm is closed to all visitors until further notice. Its October festivities are in jeopardy. The farm has six full-time employees and many part-timers and interns. Those jobs are on the line. As long as the NPS has the barricades up, the farm cannot generate the revenue that it needs to sustain itself.
If President Obama and the Senate continue their pattern of declining any and all discussions with the House, could the temporary government shutdown mean a permanent closure for the farm? “Well it might because we’re dependent on the income that we receive from visitors and events,” Eberly told me. “We receive no income from the federal government.” She added that the government is renting the barricades that it is using to close off the farm.
Closing the self-sufficient farm “is not about the money,” Eberly said. “It’s about making a point.”
Eberly warns in her email that visitors now face the risk of arrest if they try to visit the farm, not because it cannot be staffed — her staff were ready to run the farm today, as they have for years — but because the National Park Service, in her words, has become “arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive.”