Government shutdown to have various effects on Northwest Colorado
Craig — The federal government has shut down, and although Washington, D.C., is almost 2,000 miles away, people are feeling the effects right here in Northwest Colorado.
While emergency services still will be in operation under a government shutdown, the Bureau of Land Management and Dinosaur Monument essentially have closed down. The BLM will be working with a skeletal staff, and Dinosaur National Monument will be closed.
During the shutdown, 70 Moffat County BLM employees won’t be working or getting paid, Public Affairs Specialist David Boyd wrote in an email.
“We (will) put most of the BLM employees on furlough,” BLM State Communications Director Steve Hall said.
Certain emergency medical services staff will remain working at the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office, but their resources will be limited, Hall said. They could respond to fires, but it wouldn’t necessarily be business as usual.
“If a fire occurred, we would try to get response to the fire,” Hall said. “With a furlough and (the) government shutdown, our resources (are) severely limited.”
Dinosaur National Monument also is left with 46 employees furloughed. The only staff remaining at the park will be the acting superintendent, a couple of critical systems managers and a few law enforcement rangers, said Dan Johnson, chief of interpretation and visitor services.
Part of Harper’s Corner Road, from U.S. Highway 40 to the Echo Park Road, will be open in the park because hunters still are in the area, Johnson said. Anyone using the campgrounds has been given 48 hours’ notice to leave. All trails, bathrooms, campgrounds and visitor centers are closed. Anyone who had scheduled a launch in the Green River will have to reschedule.
Johnson himself left the office at noon Tuesday to begin his furlough.
“The National Park Service is hopeful that this issue will be resolved quickly,” Johnson said.
The U.S. Forest Service also is closed, and with it the Hahn’s Peak Bears Ears Ranger District Office in Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Ranger District in Yampa.
Other government services such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its website also are shut down. Critical weather information still will be available at http://www.weather.gov.
Services that are administered through the state should continue to operate normally in the short term. City and county governments will stay open, and the U.S. Postal Service will continue to operate normally.
The shutdown is happening because of a government gridlock.
“Our national government is $17 trillion in debt,” said Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid at Tuesday morning’s commissioner meeting. “These gentlemen and women who are representing us in D.C. are doing nothing but making it worse.”
House Republicans attached a one-year delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — to the budget plan that would mean the mandate for Americans to purchase health insurance would not go into effect for another year.
The Senate turned down that option, but House Republicans declined to move forward without the delay.
This back-and-forth continued into the night Tuesday but resulted in a stalemate.
This is the first time a government shutdown has shaken the country in 17 years.
Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe was dismissive about the government shutdown at Tuesday morning’s commissioner meeting.
The shutdown “doesn’t really affect us now,” Grobe said.
Commissioner Tom Mathers had his take on how the shutdown should be handled by the federal government.
“When the government shuts down because Congress could not agree on a budget, they should lose their wages at that time,” Mathers said.
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.