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Some campgrounds, restrooms reopen in Great Smokies and Cape Hatteras amid shutdown

Some parts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed by the partial shutdown of the federal government, including campgrounds and restrooms, have reopened.

The National Park Service will use revenue generated by recreation fees to bring back furloughed maintenance crews to reopen roads and some basic services, the Smokies park wrote in a statement Sunday.

Maintenance crews reopened Sunday the campground, picnic area and restrooms in Cades Cove and restrooms at the Smokemont campground and Deep Creek picnic area, the park said. Little River Road between Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and the Townsend (Tenn.) Wye and Foothills Parkway East also reopened.

Restrooms that temporarily reopened at Newfound Gap and the Cades Cove visitor center through the nonprofit group Friends of the Smokies, which raises money and provides volunteers for the park, will also be opened and maintained. Another nonprofit support group, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, donated its services to reopen the Cades Cove visitor center.

Most park facilities, including the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee visitors centers, will remain closed.

“We greatly appreciate the generous contributions of park partners who have provided funding to staff visitor centers over the holidays and keep bathrooms at Newfound Gap and (Cades Cove) open during the lapse in appropriations,” park Superintendent Cassius Cash wrote in a statement. “Their efforts have contributed significantly to our ability to restore access and basic services to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

Road crews will plow roads, remove downed trees and clear small landslides along heavily-used park roads including the Spur, Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road and the Cades Cove Loop Road. But the park warned that roads closed because of winter weather may stay closed longer than normal, while more remote roads might remain closed.

The park’s website and social media accounts aren’t being updated during the shutdown.

On North Carolina’s coast, Cape Hatteras National Seashore said Saturday that it would also use federal recreation fees to reopen some restrooms and resume trash pickup, the Outer Banks Voice reported.

Restrooms at Whalebone Junction, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Ocracoke visitor center reopened over the weekend, the Voice reported. Trash will also be collected at visitor areas including the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Nine federal departments and agencies, including the Interior Department that runs national parks, have been closed since their funding was exhausted on Dec. 22. With President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats still at odds over building a wall on the Mexican border, the shutdown is the longest in U.S. history.

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