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If federal government shuts down, so does Lakeshore

A sign show park regulations for West Beach is seen Wednesday April 6 2011 Dunes National Lake Shore. | Scott

A sign show the park regulations for West Beach is seen Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at the Dunes National Lake Shore. | Scott M. Bort~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 23, 2012 2:09AM



The looming federal government shutdown would close the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore if Congress can’t reach a funding agreement by Friday night.

All activities at the National Lakeshore would be cancelled along with those at the remaining 393 national parks, lakeshores, recreation areas, monuments and historic sites, according to National Park Service spokesman David Barda. The shutdown would coincide with several activities planned for National Parks Week, which is April 16-23.

Federal museums, such as the Smithsonian Insitution and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., would be shuttered as well.

Eighth-grade students from Valparaiso’s Immanuel Lutheran School will be touring the nation’s capital this weekend, so part of their trip could be affected by the closures.

“Our tour of the U.S. Capitol and the White House are on Friday, thankfully,” said teacher Candy Mues, who organizes the trip each year. “We’ve been in contact with Rep. Visclosky and Sen. Lugar’s offices, who we’ll meet then, too.”

Mues said the group of 29 students and 14 adults planned to visit the Smithsonian on Saturday or Sunday, but they have some alternatives in case it’s closed.

“It’s Washington, D.C., there are so many other choices that we have,” Mues said. “What a lesson in how the government works.”

For citizens, the shutdown could have an impact on them depending on the length of the shutdown. The last goverment shutdown — from December 1995 to January 1996 — lasted 21 days.

About 800,000 federal workers would be furloughed, but some critical functions — military, homeland security and law enforcement — would continue. Federal courts will remain open. Soldiers would not get paid if a shutdown occured.

Federal tax refunds would be delayed, but taxpayers would still be required to mail their returns by April 18.

In the short term, Medicare and Medicaid would still be funded. Social Security benefits would continue to be sent out.

The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, would stop guaranteeing loans. The Environmental Protection Agency would cease issuing permits and stop reviewing environmental impact statements which will slow approval of projects.

Indiana officials doubt that a possible shutdown will hamper their operations.

“A short federal government shutdown should have little impact on Indiana state government programs or finances,” Office of Management & Budget Director Chris Ruhl said in a statement. “In Indiana, we’re prepared for federal spending reductions and we’ll manage just fine.”

Department of Education spokeswoman Lauren Auld said that federally funded programs like Title I will probably be fine in the short term.

“We have funding available to us in a letter of credit from USDA that they have told us we would still have access to during a shut down (for free and reduced lunch money),” Auld said in an e-mail. “That would allow us to continue to pay reimbursement in the short term but depending on how long the shut down lasts we could run into problems at some point.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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