EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 5, 2013

N.H. is open for business

Granite State to visitors: We're open for business

The federal government shutdown isn’t shutting out leaf peepers in New Hampshire.

Though federal facilities are closed, the beauty of the White Mountain National Forest remains open to tourists.

People are free to drive the Kancamagus Highway through the forest and view the colors.

Forecasting 7.8 million visitors will spend more than $1 billion in the Granite State this year, state officials are pushing tourists toward state park campsites and its own Websites for foliage updates.

“Everything is open and accessible,” said Tai Freligh, a spokesman for New Hampshire Travel and Tourism. “There are no gates people can’t go past. Don’t cancel your trip. You can definitely go places and enjoy them.”

The White Mountain National Forest had a shutdown advisory posted yesterday.

“Due to the lapse in federal government funding, the U.S. Forest Service, as with other federal agencies, is closed with the exception of certain essential services,” it read. “However, we will attempt to make timely updates about public health and safety on these web pages as appropriate. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.”

The closure also will affect 20 or more private campgrounds in the forest, though Freligh said he understood they would remain open through this weekend.

Freligh’s message for tourists was don’t be discouraged by what’s happened in Washington.

“You may not see a ranger or have access to bathroom facilities, but you can still go and experience the foliage,” he said.

The state posts its own foliage report at VisitNH.gov.

“If you’re looking for peak color this weekend, head up to the White Mountains region, where many areas are peaking right now,” the report said yesterday.

“The color is fantastic right now in the White Mountains,” Freligh said.

The Division of Parks and Recreation let people know the state remains open for leaf peepers.

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