79
      Monday
      85 / 65
      Tuesday
      89 / 70
      Wednesday
      87 / 68

      Tourists still bring business despite closed parks

      Business owners in Empire say that it's been hard for them to tell whether or not the shutdown has hurt their numbers because many people are still keeping with their original plans and visiting the area, despite being turned away from the campsites and scenic drives.

      Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is just one of the many national parks that has been forced to close it's gates during the partial government shutdown, but some business owners in Northern Michigan say they have not felt the effects just yet.

      Business owners in Empire say that it's been hard for them to tell whether or not the shutdown has hurt their numbers because many people are still sticking with their original plans and visiting the area, despite being turned away from the campsites and scenic drives.

      Park Rangers at the national lakeshore closed the iconic park on Tuesday morning due to the partial government shutdown. With the exception of four workers to watch over the national lakeshore, 60 employees who work at the national park were laid off. Area business owners say that the park employees frequented the area stores and restaurants on a daily basis.

      "We have noticed it here even though we're just a small little place, but we have the national park center here and they employ probably 20-30 people up there at the main office and we notice it at lunch time mostly," said Deering's Market Owner, Phil Deering. "They come down and get lunch and also the regular park employees coming in after work."

      "They come up for lunch, they come for dinner, they stop and have a beer and watch the game," said Joe's Friendly Tavern owner, Frank Lerchen.

      All areas of the park, including the visitors center, scenic drive and campgrounds are closed to visitors.

      Despite the park being closed, folks could still be seen climbing the dunes on Sunday at the designated Dune Climb area.