|Incomplete picture on state of federal lands following shutdown posted on 03/01/2019|
While Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California
reportedly experienced damage that could be felt for decades, if not hundreds
of years, during the record 35-day government shutdown in January, the federal
lands on Mount Hood seem to have avoided a similar fate.
Jennifer Velez, Public Affairs Officer for the Northwest
Oregon District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), noted that the main
problem they encountered after the shutdown was trash. Recreation staff
conducted assessments of all recreation sites when they returned to work, and
Velez noted that it took approximately 30 hours to clean up the trash.
“Thanks to any visitors on BLM who picked up trash or served
as stewards to public lands,” Velez said. “A huge thank you. We know that made
The Northwest Oregon District has approximately 250
permanent employees, Velez added, noting that some were considered “essential”
and did continue to work during the shutdown, including law enforcement. She
added that they do have standard operating procedures they go through in the
event of a shutdown, but they find out about it at the same time as the general
The fate of the Mount Hood National Forest (MHNF), however,
was unclear as representatives from the MHNF declined to comment on what, if
any, damage was reported, the total number of employees, the number of
employees who worked during the shutdown or any steps the MHNF takes in the event
of a shutdown.
Laura Pramuk, Public Affairs Officer for the US Forest
Service (USFS), referred the Mountain Times to online documents, including
Field Operational Updates for each state that were last updated in late
January, and a blog post by Chief Vicki Christiansen titled “Resume, Recover,
Rest” and addressing the USFS employees. Neither addressed the questions
submitted by the Mountain Times.
Pramuk added that law enforcement staff worked during the
furlough, but that the Washington office wouldn’t answer specific questions.
By Garth Guibord/MT