The Examiner spoke with Keith Smith, founder of the The Big Plantation, whose radio show airs Sunday nights 7:00 - 9:00 Eastern time and the co-founder of "Citizens for Liberty," Steve Piotrowski, who is assisting in moderating the week-long event.
The public Facebook invitation reads in part,
"You do not have to stop at a man made fictional barrier which tells you not to cross because of a political objective. You walk around, duck under, move barrier or walk right through it."
The creator of the event observes,
"The government cannot shut down the woods, the lakes, the mountains, the sand, the bays, the fields, the memorials, the grass or anything they claim they own. It is there for your enjoyment."
Is it illegal for a citizen to walk through a national park when a sign is posted by the National Park Service? Does a sign equate to a law? Smith says that the event is "non-political" and urges anyone who believes in the effort to join forces and take photos, which will be compiled into a YouTube video.
Smith said that the reason he decided to create the Facebook invitation, along with his co-hosts Michael Heise & Jamie Martin, was
"...because we believe the government has no right to use force to take money from peaceful people to fund putting blockades on parkland that is put into the public trust for all Americans to enjoy."
The idea came about after Smith, a builder, was surveying damage done by Hurricane Sandy in Holgate, New Jersey. While in an area where dunes were being rebuilt, he came across a sign blocking him from the beach. At first, he thought it was because "the terrapin turtles were hatching," but then he read the signs, which said "Refuge Closed due to Government Shutdown." He was "enraged" and said,
"Who are they to block off the beach for political gain?"
As reported by the Examiner, the park closures seem to be driven by politics, especially considering that privately owned concessions have been told to "cease operations," even if they do not accept money from the federal government. Additionally, many of the moves by the National Park Service have been implemented at an "increased expense to taxpayers," such as adding guards and barriers to monuments where none existed previously.
A Park Service ranger in Washington said,
“We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
Also adding to the suspicion that the move to close the parks is politically motivated is the fact that the National Park Service has rebuffed offers by "state and private officials" to keep parks open, such as the Grand Canyon. Bills proposed to fund the parks (as well as veterans' services and the city of Washington, D.C.) were not passed by Democrats, who "remained mostly united against the funding bills," as reported by Carrie Dann and Michael O'Brien of NBC.