The gate to the Yellowtail Dam visitor center

The gate to the Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center outside Fort Smith is closed due to the government shutdown. 

LARRY MAYER, Gazette Staff

Congress failed to approve short-term funding for the federal government on Friday, meaning several government services are suspended until further notice.

Other services are expected to remain available.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that Forest Service law enforcement will continue to work, as will food safety inspectors and members of the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, which cares for animals. Other services not important to life or public safety will be suspended, including farm services.

Veterans health services would be largely unaffected. Veterans clinics across the state would remain open and fully operational during a shutdown. The Veterans Health Administration received its funding for the 2014 federal fiscal year, which began Tuesday. All services, including shuttle services for disabled veterans, would be functional.

The Bureau of Land Management issued the following statement:

"In the event that Congress is unable to enact appropriations or a continuing resolution, essentially all activities of the BLM will be halted with the exception of law enforcement, emergency response functions, and operations necessary to prevent a safety risk to life, property or resources. Without appropriated funds, there is no authority to incur obligations, including obligations for salaries, except in situations involving orderly shutdown of the bureau or to protect life and property.

"In the event that a shutdown occurs, the Department will notify bureaus to begin an orderly shutdown of unfunded functions. This will require the furlough of a majority of BLM employees. Voluntary services from employees will not be accepted. Because access to the public lands cannot be restricted in many circumstances, the BLM may take practical steps to close facilities and post signs notifying the public that BLM services will not be provided during a shutdown. While it is our goal to provide access to visitors, we will not be providing visitor services."

Yellowstone National Park issued the following statement:

"Government-run operations and facilities will be closed as soon as Saturday morning, Jan. 20. Visitors will be able to access the road from Gardiner to the Northeast Entrance and all the commercial services along that route. Visitors will also be able to access commercial services in the interior of the park (e.g. at Old Faithful) only as long as concessioners provide funds for road grooming. All park regulations, including those regarding oversnow travel, still apply. Guided snowmobile trips with commercial operators will be allowed, however, non-commercially guided snowmobile trips will not be allowed during the shutdown. If conditions become unsafe at any time, roads and/or developed areas in the park will be closed. The park will provide limited emergency response."

The U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver mail. USPS generates its own revenue through mail fees. Its post offices will remain open.

1
2
4
1
6

Agriculture and Politics Reporter

Politics and agriculture reporter for The Billings Gazette.