Yosemite closure wounds county residents, businesses
On a typical sunny October day, the half-mile of State Route 41 that leads into Yosemite National Park’s southern entrance would be crowded with cars, their seats full of eager passengers ready to enjoy some of the world’s most majestic natural sights.
However, with federal politicians still mired in budgetary gridlock, Yosemite remained closed to visitors Wednesday afternoon and saw, perhaps ironically, California Department of Transportation workers repaving that stretch of lonesome road as potential guests were turned away.
The shutdown’s effects have been felt across the nation, with some 800,000 “non-essential” federal employees — about 1,800 employed at Yosemite — on furlough and subsequently a national economic loss of around $1 billion a week.
But those effects are possibly even more far-reaching for Madera County. As the southern gateway to Yosemite, the county relies heavily on the park’s tourist-drawing power for guests to fill lodging as well as patronize a multitude of restaurants and retail shops...