Shutdown: Local impact minimal

Written by Don Iler, Pilot staff writer October 01, 2013 08:05 pm

With a government shutdown now a reality, the impact here in Curry County looks to be minimal in the short term, but could impact locally the longer it lasts. 

Benefit check delays, closed Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management offices and closed National Parks will be the most immediately felt by local residents. Government websites will be either unavailable or not updated because of the shutdown. Passports will not be processed, which could delay foreign travel. 


As of Tuesday afternoon, voice-mail messages for U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D) and Jeff Merkley’s (D) said their offices were closed and that most staff had been furloughed. A staffer at U.S. Rep. Peter Defazio’s (D) office in Eugene said they had been told to come to work, but that it could change. 

Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman said he did not foresee impacts to the city or its services because of the government shutdown.

In Gold Beach, however, the city’s waste water treatment plant is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grant and loan. 

Jodie Fritts, Gold Beach city administrator, said that payments for the waste water treatment could be delayed because of the shutdown and, although the city does have some money in reserve, the longer the shutdown lasts, the more it could affect the city.

The same goes for the WIC program in Oregon. 

“At this point, we are continuing to run as usual and we have funding to last a few weeks,” said Sue Woodbury, state WIC director. 

Applications will continue to be processed, those eligible can continue to redeem checks at grocery stores, and grocery stores will continue to be able to cash checks. However, if the shutdown lasts longer than a few weeks, the state will need to reevaluate funding.

Most BLM and Forest Service recreation sites, such as campgrounds, have already closed for the season, but all will be closed now because of the shutdown. 

Megan Harper, public affairs specialist with the BLM in North Bend, said that most will notice the closed facilities. 

Around 330 Forest Service employees with the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest will be affected by the government shutdown. Most camping and recreation sites were already scheduled to close, but the shutdown could affect those trying to get permits from the Forest Service, since offices will be closed. 

Curry County Commissioner David Brock Smith said that while there were no immediate financial impacts to the county, with congressional and forest services offices closed, work on HR 1526 cannot go forward, which will continue financial problems at the county. 

“According to the finance director, we’ll be fine,” Smith said. “If it lasts for a month or two, than we aren’t going to be.”

The U.S. Coast Guard will remain operational, and Guard personnel will continue to be paid because of a bill, signed by President Barack Obama Monday night, authorizing military members to be paid through the government shutdown.

South of the border in California, Redwood National Park will be closed, although the state-owned portions will remain open. Programs and all scheduled activities will be canceled — including an environmental education class for students in Del Norte County.