Government shutdown means campers have to move out

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CARLYLE, IL (KTVI)-- The biggest economic "stings" from the federal government shutdown for the St. Louis area may be in ways few people see coming; for instance a clamp-down on campgrounds.

The Army Corps of Engineers runs recreational programs at five lakes in the St. Louis region.  Those programs mean millions in terms of both visitors and dollars.

They're closed now; campers at those lakes have until Wednesday evening to get out.

“It’s one of the prettiest campgrounds we’ve ever been in,” said camper, Lois Franzen, of Royal, IL, near Champaign.

She and her husband planned to celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary at a Carlyle Lake campground next week.

Insteadthey were packing up and pulling out, Tuesday night.

If there isheaven in Illinois, Carlyle Lake seemed like a big slice of it:  perfect weather, gorgeous sunset.

Sunrise was pretty awesome, too.

“We were sitting outside eating breakfast, watching turkeys walk by; wild turkeys, just walking by.  You don’t see that at home,” said camper, John Kajdesz of Shiloh.

A spokesman said the Army Corps’ rec programs draw about 17 million visitors –a-year; pumping about $400 million into the economy;  supporting thousands of jobs; with the St. Louis region tops in the country.

Campers couldn’t figure why Congress couldn’t figure out a better way.

“I’d even pay my camping fees and haul my own garbage out if they’d let me stay,” Franzen laughed.

“I can’t say what I’m really thinking about, but they need to get their head out of a dark spot,” quipped camper, Larry Sisson of New Memphis, IL.

“You know, we can’t live like that; closed one day, open the next day, what happens the following day, it’s going to close up again, nah,” said Kajdesz, disgusted.

Those five Army Corps lakes are Carlyle, Shelbyville, and Rend, in Illinois; Mark Twain and Wappapello in Missouri.

The Army Corps primary duties of keeping the Mississippi’s main navigation channel open and cleaning up radioactive waste leftovers in the St. Louis area from the days of the Manhattan Project, will continue; with current projects already funded.

But as a spokesman put it, the longer this thing goes, who knows?


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