I didn’t realize until 1/2 way through my run this morning that the trails I was running on were closed due to the shutdown. There were no signs at the trailhead I used – it was in a state park. There were plenty of National Wildlife Refuge signs all along the trail once I entered the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. When I emerged at the Lyndale Trailhead there were signs posted saying the trails were closed – with a QR code with more information. I didn’t have my phone so that was useless and I couldn’t snap a picture, but I found a similar sign (right) online.
On my run back to the car I didn’t see any signs along the way indicating the trail’s closure and I didn’t when I popped out at the Hopkins Cir/Hopkins Place trail head either. It isn’t super clear when you leave the State Park and enter the Wildlife Refuge. So fortunately no ranger was waiting to give me a ticket like happened to John Bell.
Bell said he drove to the park Sunday morning and noticed that internal park roads were barricaded, much like they are at night after the park closes, so instead he drove to a remote parking lot off of state Route 23.
He proceeded to run about five miles through the 3,500-acre park and returned to find a pair of park rangers in the parking lot.
“When I came back my car was surrounded by two ranger vehicles with their lights flashing,” Bell said. “I felt like I was a terrorist.”
Bell said the rangers asked him if he “watched the news” and told him the park was closed because the government is shut down. Bell said they had already placed a $100 ticket on his car.
“I’ve got to go to federal court if I want to fight this thing,” he said.
According to the article over 20 tickets have been issued at Valley Forge. Runners World reports that there will be a protest run tomorrow.
Relevant Magazine reports that at the same time this occurred Congress deemed that Congressional gyms were essential, but unfortunately gyms for Congressional staffers aren’t.
Ironically, that very week, Congress deemed their tax-payer funded personal gym “essential” so that they could still workout during the shutdown. (Though, we should note, the “staff” gym—for employees of our elected officials, was closed.) Congress can keep their fancy gyms, but as John Bell is reminding everyone else, from the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, ?this land was made for you and me.