If you know me, you know I’m no stranger to F-words.
Forest. Foliage. And, you know, that little sentence enhancer that starts with the same letter.
But there is one F-word I absolutely despise.
The government was recently unable to pass a bill in the senate (you may have heard something about it). That means it will be furloughing workers starting as early as this past weekend, since it wasn’t able to approve a sufficient budget for a lot of government services. These services include the National Park Service.
On top of the fact that workers are temporarily furloughed, causing possible financial issues, a lot of the land we love will have limited access.
Planning on going to Yosemite in the near future? You might want to hold off for a sec, because if the furlough doesn’t get figured out, you’ll have limited access to a ton of amenities. If the gates are unlocked (as they are figuring out a plan for this), restrooms and other visitor facilities will most likely be locked or out of stock (toilet paper, y’all). Same goes for Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Glacier and so many more. The furlough in 2013 for non-essential employees lasted 3 weeks. That was just shortly after my time working for the BLM on the Oregon Coast.
But don’t dismay, because there are plenty of other places to explore (you just may not have a fully stocked/unlocked bathroom).
First of all, this furlough affects the national parks, forests and BLM lands.
Here is some info taken straight from the Washington Trails Association:
- NPS won’t operate its 401 sites. They have stopped providing visitor services and facilities are locked. Visitor centers, restrooms, trash collection, visitor information, educational programs and permits are not available.
- Visitors should continue to display the America the Beautiful pass.
- Roads that go through or around national parks remain open, but won’t be maintained (including no plowing). For mountain pass conditions, check with the Washington Department of Transportation.
- NPS won’t operate campgrounds. They won’t provide services, and facilities are locked including: restrooms, showers, check-in/check-out, reservations and trash collection.
- Visitors at NPS campgrounds won’t be asked to leave, but they will be notified that there won’t be any services. Those with reservations for a later date will be notified that NPS is not providing services (including check-in/check-out) and there is no guarantee that their reserved campsite will be ready and available.
- National Park Service websites and social media won’t be maintained, and there won’t be updates on road or trail conditions.
- At the park superintendent’s discretion, individual parks may close sensitive areas that are vulnerable to natural resource damage or looting.
- If visitor access becomes a health, safety or resource protection issue, then the site will be closed.
NATIONAL FOREST TRAILS OPEN, BUT CAMPING AND FACILITIES ARE CLOSED
Generally, trails on national forests remain open, but access may be limited by locked gates. Here’s what we know, though these are subject to change and will be updated on this blog as we learn more.
- Forest Service visitor centers and offices are closed.
- Trailheads and trails in National Forests are not closed, but all gates will be locked, limiting access to trailheads.
- Trailhead facilities like restrooms are locked, water systems shut down and garbage won’t be serviced.
- Visitors at campgrounds operated by the U.S. Forest Service will be given 48 hours to vacate, with the area shut down as the last visitor leaves, not to exceed 48 hours.
- Forest Service website and social media sites won’t be maintained and road and trail condition won’t be provided.
- Continue to hang your Northwest Forest Pass at trailheads.
THE SILVER LINING: STATE AND LOCAL LANDS ARE OPEN
Make use of those awesome lands! Visit state parks (don’t forget your pass!), scenic viewpoints, beaches, mountains, and privately owned recreation areas!
You can Find a State Park here: