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Thu, June 27

With possible government shutdown looming, Forest Service goes about business as normal

Prescott National Forest Trails and Wilderness Manager Jason WIlliams helps a group as over 50 volunteers came out to the Spence Basin trail system to help the Prescott National Forest as part of National Trails Day May 19, 2018, in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier,file)

Prescott National Forest Trails and Wilderness Manager Jason WIlliams helps a group as over 50 volunteers came out to the Spence Basin trail system to help the Prescott National Forest as part of National Trails Day May 19, 2018, in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier,file)

Thousands of federal workers were waiting Wednesday to see whether President Donald Trump would decide to accept an agreement from Congress that would avert another government shutdown.

The president could either sign the $330 billion-plus bill or risk once again allowing funding to run out for about 25 percent of the federal government.

The recent 35-day shutdown affected the US National Forest Service in Prescott, with the local agency basically grinding to a halt.

Normally, the local office has 118 permanent full-time employees and hires about 40 temporary employees a year. The shutdown caused it to keep essential personnel only, but the number of employees working varied, said Debbie Maneely, Prescott National Forest Service public affairs officer.

“Most of it was they were on call,” Maneely said. “So let’s say we got a call from some person saying ‘you got a water leak at a campground’ then we would call that facilities person and deal with that issue.”

Once the shutdown was over, the Forest Service focused on its employees, Maneely said, looking to help workers who went through hardships and getting everyone back into the groove of things.

The National Forrest Services Office in Washington will give its agencies instructions on how to proceed if another shutdown happens, Maneely said.

“We can all guess if there is going to be a shutdown or not, but we are continuing as if there is not going to be one,” Maneely said.

When reached for a comment about how the Forest Service is preparing employees about a possible shutdown, Forest Service National Press Officer Babete Anderson said: “We are working towards achieving our annual goals rather than speculating on what may or may not have been accomplished during the shutdown.”

George Johnston is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @GeorgeSJohnston. Reach him by email at gjohnston@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2038.

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