PORT ANGELES — People who pulled into a ranger station at Olympic National Park over the weekend were given $125 tickets for “violation of closure” — entering the park during the government shutdown.
Three of the cars were a group of international students from Peninsula College led by host Kelly Sanders, a teacher from Port Angeles, the Peninsula Daily News reported Tuesday.
They pulled off Highway 101 at Lake Crescent, got out and posed for a picture behind the Storm King Ranger Station when Ranger Jennifer Jackson pulled up and wrote all three drivers tickets. Each carries the $125 fine.
The students from Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong and China were puzzled, Sanders said.
“I didn’t know how to explain it to them because I can’t really understand why all this happened myself,” Sanders said Monday.
“I know they were surprised that we would get a ticket for trying to go for a hike.”
The driveway into the Storm King lot was partially blocked by orange road cones and a sandwich board with a sign stuck to it with duct tape reading, “Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service facility is closed,” Sanders said.
“It was a really wide opening — wide enough I could get my car through easily,” said Leanne Potts of Sequim, who also received a $125 citation from Jackson.
Potts set out that morning for a hike up the Mount Storm King Trail with her friend, Laura Clemons.
“If I knew I was going to get a ticket, I probably wouldn’t have gone in there,” she said.
Both Potts and Sanders were confused by the wording on the sign.
“When I think of facilities, I think of buildings or bathrooms or features or something,” Potts said.
“I just assumed that it meant the bathrooms were closed, not that I would be breaking the law,” Sanders said.
Ranger Jackson was sympathetic and said she wasn’t being paid during the shutdown.
“She said she was just doing her job,” Sanders said of Jackson. “I understand that she thought that was her job. It just seemed a little excessive.”
“She did say, 'Feel free to complain. We welcome your complaints,”’ Potts said.