Amid government shutdown, Lincoln Boyhood waitsJanuary 4, 2019
By ALLEN LAMAN
LINCOLN CITY — More than 500 miles from a debate that it has nothing to do with, the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial waits.
Outside a parking lot waiting to be filled, light switches in the visitor center wait to be flipped back on, and an open cash register waits to be replenished with bills.
Recreations of the home and farm buildings that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, grew up in wait with their doors padlocked and windows shuttered.
The memorial’s employees wait to speak, having been instructed to direct all media requests to a government email address.
“AREA CLOSED,” reads a sign on the visitor center door. “Because of a lapse in federal appropriations, this visitor center is closed for the safety of visitors and park resources.”
The Lincoln City memorial is known for freezing in time an important part of an important man’s life. But even now, as the partial federal government shutdown freezes national park services at the site, life lives on in the forested enclosure.
The chirps of birds, crunches of squirrels scurrying over leaves and the rumble of cars zipping down nearby roads echo through the largely empty site. While the memorial’s facilities are closed, the grounds have remained open to the public, and joggers could be seen beating down their trails on Thursday afternoon.
Nearly two weeks have passed since the shutdown began, as lawmakers in the nation’s capital battle over one of President Donald Trump’s most divisive campaign promises: funding the construction of a border wall between southern states and Mexico.
And until the government reopens, national parks across the country are fighting battles of their own. The Associated Press reported that the shutdown has forced furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees, which has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds and otherwise keep parks running.
Garbage bins overflow or are being disregarded at some, as guests journey to visit them at no cost and jam roadways in the process.
But this doesn’t seem to be the case at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Resting in wait, the grounds are clean, and finding a person is much harder than finding a curious animal, whose cries slice through the brisk air.
Inside pens in the memorial, cows moo, chickens squawk, horses click their feet and sheep bah. They lifted their heads and slunk to Park Ranger Bob Zimmerman when he visited them for an afternoon feeding on Thursday.
He did not comment to The Herald. But as the sun hung low in the sky, his calls to the animals echoed through the grounds. Slowly, they crowded near a fence as Zimmerman talked to them.
It was a moment of pure connection — and a reminder that not all is still at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.
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