Hours after the partial federal government shutdown ended, hundreds of employees and visitors entered Everglades National Park Thursday morning.
All 238 employees who were furloughed from the park were notified to come back and get it running again by Park Superintendent Dan Kimball, who didn't waste any time as soon as he heard the shutdown was over.
“I got some messages back that were very, 'thank you we are ready to get back in the park and enjoy the place,'" Kimball said Thursday.
The 16-day closure had its setbacks. The park sees more than a million guests a year with $147 million being spent there annually.
Kimball says the shutdown definitely is going to hurt.
"There are a lot of people who love this place, they were very unhappy they couldn’t come and enjoy the place and there were a lot of businesses and guides for example who are dependent on making a living by having people come to the park," he said.
Other employees expressed their disappointment over the shutdown.
"It shouldn’t have gotten to that point, they should have taken care of this months ago,” Betty Mamuyac said.
Some visitors agreed with the employees.
"A bunch of people fighting over money and it really doesn’t make sense to me," Richard Ledward said.
Others who traveled a great distance to be at the park were just thankful the shutdown is over.
"Birds and airboats, we’re from Denmark so we don’t have alligators and such wildlife," Mogens Holm-Jensen said.
In addition to the park opening, the other good news is everyone furloughed is expected to get retroactive pay.
Though the gates are open and visitors are free to go about the park, it may take some time before everything is back to full swing. Kimball said by Friday everything will back at full swing ready for the weekend.
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