Nature lovers in Tucson quickly felt the effects of a partial federal government shutdown Tuesday — with Saguaro National Park and other recreation sites closed indefinitely.
Saguaro Park trails, including the Sweetwater Trail west of Tucson, were blocked with barricades and signs noting the closure.
The visitor center in popular Sabino Canyon northeast of Tucson was closed, and restrooms there were locked Tuesday. But visitors could drive into the canyon parking lot. Some hiked up the main canyon road, and others rode the canyon shuttle, which remained in operation at midday.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the canyon would be completely closed by today. A news release sent out Tuesday afternoon by the U.S. Forest Service said the closure would include the canyon visitor center, parking lot and shuttle service.
Efforts to reach the Forest Service for clarification by phone and email were answered only by automated responses.
“Color us disappointed,” said Tucsonan Molly Sheedy, who brought a visitor, Lorie Carroccia of Buffalo, N.Y., to the Sabino Canyon visitor center Tuesday. “Everything inside the visitor center is awesome, and she’s missing it all because of this shutdown.”
Meanwhile, military installations, including Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista, will face curtailment of some operations and services.
But a news release from Fort Huachuca noted, “During the lapse in appropriations, all of our military personnel are directed to continue in a normal duty status. The Pay our Military Act has authorized the Department of Defense to pay our service members on time and in full.”
The Tucson VA Hospital and all of the Southern Arizona VA Community Clinics remain open during budget talks, the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System said in a news release.