Government shutdown impacts visitors to Sanibel wildlife refuge

The Chapman Family came all the way down from Pennsylvania with hopes to enjoy the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

“Over the holidays, it’s good for people to have recreation,” Samantha Chapman said. “But also so that they can learn about the animals and trees that surround them and help protect them.”

But, unfortunately they were greeted by a sign that stated, “closed due to the government shut down.”

“Well aware of the shut down,” Adam Chapman said. “Didn’t connect the dance until we pulled up in here.”

“We’re here on our vacation,” Samantha said. “It would be nice to come here and use our federal resources that our tax dollars go towards.”

Samantha and her husband, Adam, are ecologists and they were excited for their kids to be immersed in the environment.

“Even as an ecologist, I feel like I have some idea of what’s going to be out here,” Adam said. “But I like to go to the interpretive center to see what the highlights are, what kind of wildlife we should be looking out for.”

President Donald Trump is fighting to get funding for his southern board wall. He said he will keep the government shut down until then, which means a delay in payment for the employees that run the visitors center. A message that does not sit well with the Chapmans.

“I think he needs to listen to the will of the people, which is that most of us aren’t interested in the wall and the fights we’re having over this,” Samantha said. “It seems to be causing more harm than good and we should open up the federal government again.”

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