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Shutdown Leaves Federal Workers With Time, But No Access To Popular Va. Trail

The Mt. Vernon Trail is still accessible, but it's technically closed due to the federal government shutdown.
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The Mt. Vernon Trail is still accessible, but it's technically closed due to the federal government shutdown.

In Virginia, government workers who have free time are hitting the Mount Vernon Trail. There's only one problem—it's closed because of the federal government shutdown.

Yesterday National Park Service officials started to shuttering federal facilities across the country, including many local parks, memorials and monuments—none of which are in short supply in and around the nation's capital.

At the Belle Haven Marina, a steady stream of cars pulled up to the parking lot of a park along the Mount Vernon Trail only to learn the parking lot—and the park, and the trail itself—are all closed because of the government shutdown.

Although the parking lot to the park was closed, the access road to to Belle Haven Marina is open, and so are the parallel parking spaces. But a National Park Service Police trooper hit Kevin Johnson with an $85 parking ticket.

"We can't even go out and exercise? I mean it's… I understand, I guess the federal parks are closed. But this is the only parking available. So I did what I had to do. The only other option was to park in the neighborhood and then probably get a permit violation or something," said Johnson.

Up and down the Mount Vernon Trail, walkers and runners and bicyclists are using the trail in open defiance of the U.S. Park Police, which patrols national parks and monuments.

"Technically I'm going to be breaking the law in a few minutes I guess," laughed Margie Remmers of Alexandria, who said that she's willing to open flout the law.

"It's silly. This whole shutdown thing. It's just a lack of, what, discipline and maturity that seems to be gone from our society more and more," offered Mike Russell of Mount Vernon, who said he's fed up with Washington.

For now, the Mount Vernon Trail remains shuttered, and the fate of this weekend's Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon remains in doubt.

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