While the U.S. government was shut down, this meant all the national parks were closed. One group of international students and a teacher didn’t know you couldn’t visit the park during the shutdown, resulting in a hefty fine.
Kelly Sanders, a sixth grade teacher from Port Angeles, Washington took a group of six students hiking to Olympic National Park. The group included two sixth graders from Japan and four Peninsula College students visiting from Indonesia, Hong Kong, and China.
The group was traveling in three cars when they decided to pull off the highway to take photographs. Not much later, Park Ranger Jennifer Jackson (who was on duty, but not getting paid) approached the group, asked for driver’s licenses, and issued $125 tickets to each of the drivers.
The tickets were given out because the group was in “violation of closure”, meaning tourists weren’t allowed in the park during the government shutdown. National park are funded by the U.S. government.
There were signs saying the park was closed, but Sanders said she thought it meant facilities, such as bathrooms, would be closed. They simply just wanted to enjoy nature.