By Deb Murphy
Today marks the 19th day of the federal shutdown.
Bishop’s office building housing the Inyo National Forest and Bureau of Land Management staffs has a note on its locked door, idle vehicles sit in the parking lot.
Visitors can tool around Manzanar but can’t get in the building to view the exhibits.
Death Valley campsites are closed but the resorts, not federal facilities, are open and doing well, according to a report by park head Mike Reynolds, via Supervisor Matt Kingsley at Tuesday’s Board meeting.
Four restrooms are functioning and the visitors’ center is open and staffed by the Death Valley Historical Society.
It would be appropriate to talk about the number of local residents going without their paychecks, but by the time this thing actually hit, it was too late to get that data. E-mails get a canned “we’re closed” reply.
On top of the impact of locals going without their paychecks—services provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture are at risk.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, Food Distribution Programs on Native American reservations and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) could be impacted if the shutdown drags on.
Marilyn Mann, Inyo’s Health and Human Services director, thinks the state may be able to continue funding these programs. “The state is committed to food security,” she said. She and other staff members will be attending meetings with state social services later this week, hopefully to get more clarity on potential funding for these programs.
According to CBS News, SNAP is automatically renewed but has not been financed past this month. Three billion dollars have been appropriated as emergency funding but that won’t cover all of the program’s obligations through February.
WIC and other supplemental food programs targeting specific populations have no funding. According to the USDA, those programs could continue at the local level “with any funding and commodity resources that remain available.”
Staffing at the federal level has been cut by 95-percent.