Aztec Ruins, Chaco Canyon face closure under government shutdown
FARMINGTON — Two national park locations in the Four Corners face closure if the federal government shuts down at midnight.
The shutdown loomed today as the U.S. Senate continued to debate a stopgap measure passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday that included funding for a border wall, a demand sought by President Trump to strengthen security at the country's southern border.
As debate continued in Washington, D.C., today, staff members at Aztec Ruins National Monument kept watch because the closure would impact operations leading into the Christmas holiday.
Denise Robertson, the superintendent at Aztec Ruins and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, said if there is a lapse in funding for the federal government, both locations will close.
The closures also would lead to the cancellation of winter solstice observances scheduled for Saturday, Roberson said.
While winter solstice observances were taking place at Aztec Ruins today, staff members also were preparing for the possible shutdown, she said.
Robertson could not provide an exact number of how many employees could be affected by the closure because several employees are on vacation or on nonpaid status due to the winter season.
As with previous government shutdowns, the gate to Aztec Ruins will be closed, but the situation at Chaco Canyon varies because it is accessible by a county road.
While the road will remain open, visitors will find park facilities closed, Robertson said.
National parks usually face closure or offer limited services during a federal shutdown. But the parks, monuments and recreation areas operated by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department remain open.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.