At the last minute Congress approved a stop gap budget measure to keep the federal government in business. On Friday in the Eastern Sierra, federal employees got ready to close down operations and go out on furlough.
Nancy Upham, Public Information Officer for the Forest Service, said that conference calls with the Regional Forest Office revealed the need to work toward closure of the Inyo National Forest headquarters. She said employees were told to show up Monday but to expect they would likely have to button things up and go on furlough. Employees involved in protection of life and property were the exceptions. That major shut down will not happen.
New Inyo National Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta was scheduled to start work Monday. Now, he can actually begin his assignment. Upham said the Forest Service had received some concerned calls asking about the Fishing Opener and what will happen with facilities then. “Let’s hope it’s over quickly,” she said. That hope expressed by many federal employees came to pass.
The same furlough rules would have applied to Bureau of Land Management workers and to employees at Death Valley National Park. Cheryl Chipman, Management assistant to the superintendent in Death Valley, told Sierra Wave on Friday that no budget would mean closure of Death Valley National Park and all facilities such as the visitors center, restrooms and Stove Pipe Wells restaurant.
National news reports described the potential government shut down as disastrous to the economic recovery and specifically to some 800,000 federal workers. Congress voted to okay a $38.5 billion budget cut through September. It’s a stopgap measure. They’re still at work to formalize the budget.