The extent to which the federal shutdown will hurt the White Mountain National Forest – and tourism - will depend on how long the shutdown continues, says forest supervisor Tom Wagner.
Wagner says the current workforce – about 120 people – will be cut to sixteen.
That’s to cover 800,000 acres.
People can still enjoy the views and the trails. But there’s a question about facilities.
“The forest contains many restrooms, outhouses. they would be okay for a day or two. But if this was for an extended period of time the ability to have those facilities clean and safe would be compromised,” Wagner said in an interview.
There are also 22 campgrounds in the forest.
“The day-to-day operations are run by a private concessionaire. In the short term they would remain open,” Wagner said.
“But if this got to be an extended period we would probably have to start closing facilities.”
Wagner said he is also concerned that if the shutdown continues nearby towns that depend on tourists might be hurt.
If they have a bad experience this year in the White Mountain National Forest they probably won’t forget it, he says.
Wagner estimated four million to five million tourists a year visit The White Mountain National Forest, many of them coming for the foliage.