Government Shutdown? The Impacts to Hikers
Government shutdown? It could happen.
The latest news on the subject isn't terribly hopeful. According to the current Associated Press article in the Seattle Times:
"The government faces a partial shutdown Friday at midnight if Congress doesn't take action to avoid one."
The threat of a federal government shutdown this Friday has us wondering: what will this mean for hikers and trails on our public lands? Will ranger stations be open to sell you a Northwest Forest Pass? Will forest service websites be updated with the latest road and trail conditions? How about our National Parks - will you be able to take your family snowshoeing up at Paradise this weekend?
Here's what we've found out:
- National Parks will close. Most official entrances have gates, and those gates will be closed and you will not be able to enter them. National Parks visitors centers will be closed.
- The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Visitor Centers will be closed.
- Forest Service Ranger Stations will be closed. You will not be able to stop at a ranger station to buy a Northwest Forest Pass, get road conditions or use the restroom. Most Forest Service personnel are likley to be considered "non-essential staff." Some forest service law enforcement officers will still be working.
- Hang your Northwest Forest Pass. We think it's unlikely that Forest Service law enforcement personnel will be out writing tickets, but if you've got one, hang it.
- Land management agency websites will not be updated. You will also not get through to rangers on the phone. It being spring and one of the most essential seasons all year to check conditions before heading out, we strongly encourage you to try and find out about road and trail conditions other ways, like WTA's Trip Reports and nwhikers.net.
- Post a Trip Report after your hike to let others know what you encountered. Other hikers will depend on this information, and when the government opens up again, Forest Service and Park Service rangers will be grateful for the info too.
- WTA volunteer trail work parties on federal public lands will continue, at least for the short-term. We work closely with trails and wilderness rangers on both forest service lands and national parks lands, and if a shutdown lasts awhile, our work will be impacted, certainly. We'll keep you posted.