On Wednesday, the Tatler broke the story of the National Park Service’s closing of the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The farm, which re-creates American life circa 1771, has been self-sufficient since the federal government slashed its funds in 1980. It receives no federal funds.
But, for the first time ever, the National Park Service ordered the park closed and placed barricades at its facilities. It has also threatened anyone who enters the park with arrest.
In an update on the farm’s plight, Managing Director Anna Eberly says that the farm has been “critical of the National Park Service because we think they have closed us down illegally according to the terms of the agreement we signed with them in 1981.” Eberly says that the farm’s agreement with the NPS states that the park service is only asked to provide police protection when necessary, and has no authority to close the park down. Eberly notes that the farm has elected to call in local law enforcement from Fairfax County, not the NPS, when police are needed. She also notes that because the farm is located very near the CIA, everyone feels quite safe on its grounds.
Eberly says, “The staff has been here [at the farm] all week in spite of being threatened with arrest because we feel our cause is just and the farm is worth protecting.” She says that many of the farm’s volunteers are federal employees who could be using their idle time now to help out, but the NPS is standing in the way and keeping them out.
The Claude Moore Colonial Farm has already had to cancel all of its events at a loss of roughly $15,000. As the farm depends entirely on itself for survival, there is a growing likelihood that it may not survive the National Park Service’s decision to close it. The farm remained open during every single previous government spending standoff.
Eberly says that so far, the National Park Service is not even responding to her queries about the barricades. The silence does not seem to be an effect of a lack of personnel due to the shutdown, because the NPS has been very busy deploying barricades and shutting down self-sufficient parks all over the country.
More: If you intend to visit monuments to our shared national history, pack a pair of wire cutters.