OAKDALE (CBS13) – The government shutdown is sinking business at local rivers, forcing hundreds to change their weekend plans.

With federal parks closed, the owner of rafting business along the Stanislaus River says he can’t make money.

The gates at several Stanislaus River parks were locked Saturday night, and won’t reopen until further notice.

“Since we use the parks to launch people and bring people in, they’re closed. So, we can’t operate,” said David Voortman, owner of River Journey.

Disagreement in Washington has forced the closure of all federal parks, placing rangers and maintenance workers on furlough. But it has also closed Voortman’s rafting business weeks early.

“For us and those of us in the town of Knights Ferry, it affects us because we are dependent on the people that come to the parks,” he said.

Voortman says on his busiest days, around 500 rafters will pay to use his company to go rafting.

“That’s going to be devastating. Now we won’t have a way to get in here…get in and get out like we like to do,” one rafter said.

No one will be able to access the parks. No rangers will be paid to patrol.

“This is when the poachers start coming in, when there’s nobody watching things,” the boater said.

“We are all the way across the country, but it still affects us and still affects a lot of small businesses in the area,” said Voortman.

Packing up his rafts for the last time this year, Voortman is worried he’s missing out on more business because, at least for now, the only ones that can access the river are the cows.

“We are lucky to have the last trip for the whole season,” one rafter said.

Anyone who enters the parks while they are closed could be charged with trespassing on federal land.


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