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Wilson’s Creek Hopes to Welcome Visitors Thursday Should Government Reopen

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
One of the many Civil War activities held by the Wilson's Creek National Battllefield Foundation on the battlefield./Credit: Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation

While the nation awaits a decision on the government shutdown, national parks are also hoping to reopen their gates after 16 days. KSMU’s Anna Thomas looks into what a government restart could mean for Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield has gone down from 45 employees to two during the closing, and has a single police officer guarding the front. The park has also had to cancel school field trips, events and turn away out-of-state visitors. But if the government resumes tonight at midnight, Ted Hillmer, superintendent of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, said the park will open tomorrow at 8am.

“Park employees would love to get back to work, and we’re called the National Park service for a reason. We want to serve the American people. This is their park and we want to make sure it is open for them to enjoy,” Hillmer said.

Over the last two weeks, Hillmer said his main concern was his employees, and the effects it could have on them financially. However, the House has passed the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act”that will pay furloughed federal employees once the shutdown is over.

The park’s events and fundraising have also been impacted by the  shutdown. The Bloody Hill Run, sponsored by the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation, is depending on tonight’s decision to allow for the event to be held on Saturday.

April McDonough, executive director of the Foundation, said rescheduling and refunds must be done if the Battlefield remains closed.

“It disappoints a lot of people. I think it also affects our funding. It makes people skeptical about whether these things are actually going to happen, where their money is actually going to go if we can’t hold an event when we say we’re going to,” McDonough said.

If the shutdown continues, Hillmer said state funding will likely not be available to Wilson’s Creek, adding that the Battlefield’s request to the state “didn’t go very far.” Last week, Gov. Nixon said his administration would develop a proposal to reopen some national park services in Missouri, including the Gateway Arch grounds in St. Louis and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Park.

For information on events and rescheduling, here is a link to the Foundation’s website, which is still active.

For KSMU News, I’m Anna Thomas.