JSU Supports National Parks During Government Shutdown


As the federal government shutdown continues, one of Alabama’s national parks is getting assistance from Jacksonville State University.

At Little River Canyon National Preserve in Fort Payne, JSU is working to minimize inconvenience and disappointment for visitors. The university owns and operates the Little River Canyon Center at the preserve and its employees and volunteers are keeping the Little River Canyon Center’s front desk open to assist park visitors during this time. 

Additionally, JSU is continuing to conduct educational programs during the shutdown, including presenting a documentary film on the Canyon Preserve and providing limited visitor information. The JSU Canyon Center also offers restrooms, water fountains and a gift shop. 

“Thanks to our unique partnership with the National Park Service, we’re able to offer services when most units cannot,” said Canyon Center Director Pete Conroy. “We are referring Little River Canyon National Preserve guests to official Park Service statements and warning guests that added risk exists without our federal employees. We’re also offering educational and hospitality services and have expanded our trash collection to some of the federal lands.”

Because of the government shutdown and increasing popularity of the canyon, Conroy suggests that individuals in the area consider volunteering at the Canyon Center. Those interested in helping should call the Canyon Center’s front desk at 256-845-3548.

"Regardless if it’s once a week or once a month, for guest services or litter pickup, we need qualified people who enjoy supporting JSU and the National Park Service,” Conroy said. 

JSU has been an active partner of the National Parks for decades, starting with the establishment of the Little River Canyon National Preserve in 1992. JSU opened the Little River Canyon Center in 2007 and helped with the establishment and development of Freedom Riders National Monument in 2017. 

“JSU is committed to community stewardship,” said President John M. Beehler. “Assisting the National Park Service during this difficult time is just one way we can give back to the region and state."