For years, Florida has carefully fretted over her endangered sea turtle population as all five species in the state neared calamity.
We dim lights on shore so hatchlings head to moonlight on the sea instead of death on dangerous roadways. We rope off our beaches to protect nests. We support special hospitals that save endangered turtles found in distress, and biologists carefully monitor populations like mother hens. Sometimes turtles are released by hand to give them a better chance at survival.
After all, Florida is nothing without her native resources and natural beauty.
But thanks to the government shutdown, turtle nest monitoring in Dry Tortugas National Park will end Wednesday night at 6 p.m.. Data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife agency shows that in the area of the Dry Tortugas, between three and nine nests of endangered loggerhead turtles are usually found per kilometer of surveyed beachfront.
While there are critical federal initiatives suffering all across the U.S., the mess is also affecting two of our now-closing nearby national parks, where Florida is at its finest and conservation and tourism are crucial endeavors for the state. Here's a look at the shutdown's impact, by the numbers:
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
Everglades is the 3rd largest national park in the lower 48 states, behind only Yellowstone and Death Valley. The Department of the Interior reports all visitor facilities, park campgrounds, park roads, and recreational waters are closed and all park programs have been cancelled. The park will remain closed until the government reopens. (Source: National Park Service)
2,723: average number of visitors per day in October
$2,435: entrance fees lost per day
$612: other fees lost per day
$147,000,000: money spent by park visitors per year in surrounding communities
238: employees now on furlough
34: employees still on duty, providing security, emergency services, and critical infrastructure or utility system support for the park's 1,500,000 acres.
20: percent of the fragile, critical Everglades protected by the national park
36: number of threatened or protected species residing in the park
DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK
The 100-square mile Dry Tortugas National Park includes seven remote islands and historic Fort Jefferson. The Department of the Interior reports visitor facilities, the campground at Garden Key, all islands and recreational waters are closed until the government reopens. The park is only open to boats traversing park waters or seeking safe harbor.
Also canceled: ongoing natural and cultural resource conservation planning, commercial ferry service, authorized seaplane service, ongoing turtle nest monitoring, and interpretive services. (Source: National Park Service)
107: average number of visitors per day in October
$1,500: entrance fees and concessions lost per day
$6,900,000: amount spent by park visitors per year in communities around Dry Tortugas
5: number of employees on furlough
6: employees still on duty to to provide security, emergency services, critical infrastructure support.
Unspecified: turtles at risk
Since you won't be able to visit our national parks during the shutdown, here's the only look at the Everglades you're likely to get: