Sunday, December 1, 2013
This week’s question is a compilation of queries asking me to look into what’s going on at the Roanoke Mountain Campground at milepost 120 on the spur up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Some are curious as to what the plan is for the Mountain Music Series that occurs each Sunday in the summer and what the future holds for the campgrounds along the parkway in general, while others are concerned about what appears to be an abandoned RV parked in the camp host spot just inside the locked gates.
A: The answer highlights the difficulty of being a federal worker in these times of budgetary uncertainty. Regardless of how one might feel about the size and scope of the government, it’s hard to deny that the millions of workers who cash paychecks from the U.S. government have had a rough time over the past few years. Some even have been described as “nonessential,” which likely didn’t sit too well with them.
When the sequester hit in the spring, one consequence along the parkway was that the Rocky Knob Visitor Center and the Roanoke Mountain Campground never opened for the season, except for the Sunday Mountain Music program. So you could still flatfoot to your heart’s content, but spending the night afterward was out of the question.
During the federal government shutdown in October, meanwhile, essential services like policing the parkway continued, but many activities and locations were put into a state of suspended animation until Congress resolved the budget question with a continuing resolution that maintained funding at previous levels until a more permanent solution could be devised.