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USDA Forest Service information on partial government shutdown

Saturday, January 26, 2019

All USDA Forest Service employees are called back to work to once again carry forward our conservation mission.

A continuing resolution has been passed which provides appropriations through February 15, 2019. With enactment of this continuing resolution, the lapse in appropriations has ended and all furloughed federal employees are expected to return to work on their next regularly scheduled work day.

Any employee with extenuating circumstances that would prevent their return on their next regularly scheduled work day should contact their supervisor for guidance.

We look forward to seeing all of our employees this week. Once we resume we will begin the process of recovery and resetting our work together.

A message from Chief Vicki Christiansen and more extensive information on how the Forest Service will resume, recover and reset our work is forthcoming on Sunday, January 27th via Inside the Forest Service and Forest Service email.

Documents

USDA Forest Service Lapse in Funding Plan (PDF 179 KB)

View Lapse in Funding Plans for USDA

Information for media inquiries

Due to a lapse in government funding, we have limited staff available to assist with your media request at this time. If you are an accredited media representative with a question related to the government shutdown impacts on the Forest Service, please submit it to pressoffice@fs.fed.us (link sends email) or 202-205-1134 and we will assist you as soon as we are able. For all other queries, we will respond to you as soon as possible once funding has been restored. For overall information about the government shutdown, please call the Office of Management and Budget at 202-395-7254.

Furlough Information For Forest Service Employees

Please refer to the following web page https://www.fs.fed.us/blogs/furlough-information-forest-service-employees for furlough information pertaining to Forest Service Employees.

Agency wide operational updates

Overview

The USDA Forest Service recognizes that the partial government shutdown has impacted the important work our agency does on behalf of the American people.  The lapse in funding has prevented progress on projects that would normally occur at this time of year, affecting partners, tribes, local communities, and businesses.  Qualification training in fields such as firefighting and law enforcement has been delayed.  Certain fuels treatments to improve forest conditions have been delayed or cancelled.  Work that could only be done during winter months may not be completed.

Acknowledgement of Employee Hardships

It is also important to recognize that many of our employees are incurring financial hardships in the absence of paychecks. The Forest Service is maximizing all available unappropriated dollars to fund critical work and pay as many employees who are working during the shutdown as possible. Some employees are also working without compensation while the majority remain furloughed. We look forward to an end to the shutdown when all of our employees can return to work together, receive compensation and once again carry forward our conservation mission.

USDA Forest Service ongoing work during the lapse in funding

The agency is making difficult choices on the most critical work needed to continue. We are evaluating and proceeding with some work using non-appropriated funds to ensure critical functions and public services continue. These hard choices will evolve as the lapse in funding status persists. Once the shutdown is over, we will do an agency-wide assessment to help us fully restart our work and focus on what we are able to accomplish during the remainder of the year. Current evaluations and work cover :

  • Public services covering health, safety and protection of public assets : this is consistent with work identified as Category 1 and Category III of our shutdown plan. View the current list of activities.
  • Critical functions: proceeding with some work using non-appropriated funds to continue critical business functions and public services with appropriate oversight. These activities fall under Category II of the existing shutdown plan. View the current list of activities.

Status of USDA Forest Service wildland fire operations during partial government shutdown

  • PREPAREDNESS
    • Preparing fire responders for the nation’s 2019 fire suppression is part of the USDA Forest Service shutdown plan. Despite operational challenges during this time, we are doing our best to hire and train employees so the agency readies itself to fight fire in the upcoming year.
    • Staffing for permanent and temporary fire positions is essential for the 2019 fire year; it will continue throughout shutdown status. The National Wildfire Apprentice Program is a primary training venue for interagency federal wildland firefighters. The first session occurred as planned the week of January 13, 2019.  Further information can be found at https://www.nafri.gov/wfap/ .
    • As we continue to conduct critical training to the extent feasible, we are carefully evaluating timing and need for each class. We are making difficult choices; some courses are not feasible at this time.  Most of our fire-related courses are conducted in an interagency manner. Local fire training classes are occurring across the country; some interagency training has been postponed.   
    • Forest Service employees whose regular responsibilities include responding to and managing wildland fires will be designated as excepted on-call so they are able to respond when called for duty.
  • CONTRACTORS
    • The Forest Service relies on many contractors to support wildfire suppression.  This includes ground resources, aviation assets, retardant, mobile caterers, showers, and numerous support staff contracts.
    • The Forest Service will continue necessary actions to the extent feasible to bring on these contractors as part of excepted work needed to prepare for the 2019 fire year.
  • HAZARDOUS FUELS TREATMENTS
    • The Forest Service understands treating hazardous fuels with prescribed burning is an important tool that can reduce the wildfire risk and impacts to natural resources and communities.  We recognize that prescribed fire work relies heavily on timing, ground and weather conditions. The Forest Service may make choices to conduct limited hazardous fuels treatments using funds from prior years - if those operations can be performed safely to take advantage of limited opportunities.  These are “non appropriated” funds and this work is exempt, as described in the agency’s shutdown plan. 
    • Decisions on what projects to conduct will be made on a case-by-case basis, prioritizing work in the highest risk areas where conditions are highly-favorable for success. Treatments could include mechanical fuels treatments.  Under limited circumstances, treatments may also include prescribed burns. The agency is evaluating that on a case by case basis based on an extensive risk analysis.

Wood Innovations Grant Application Deadline Extended

Grazing Permit Fees

  • The Forest Service continues to administer grazing permits as funding allows. If the ongoing partial government shutdown continues to prohibit the National Agriculture Statistic Service from providing data to calculate 2019 grazing fees, the Forest Service will continue calculated grazing fees using the 2018 minimum fee of $1.35. If, after the shutdown, a fee increase is established, a second bill will be sent to permit-holders reflecting the change in fees.

Nationwide

  • The USDA Forest Service has seen an increase in break-ins and thefts on national forests since the partial-government shutdown began. The public is reminded that our law enforcement community is still fully engaged during the shutdown, and any illegal activity on national forests will be aggressively enforced, to include prosecution of offenders.  We also ask for the public’s help in identifying and notifying authorities of illegal activities by calling local law enforcement. If you see something, say something.

Field Operational Updates

State: Alaska
  • Chugach National Forest - Avalanche forecasting services from the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center continue. Forecasts are available 7:00 a.m. daily and posted on the web at http://www.cnfaic.org/wx/weather.php - Update from week of January 6, 2019
  • Tongass National Forest -

    • Ketchikan – All  "Friday Night Insights" sessions, normally held at the SE Alaska Discovery Center, are cancelled during the government shutdown.  An updated schedule will be provided once the furlough has ended and we return to normal operations - Update from 01/22/2019

    • A landslide has occurred on National Forest System Lands, Tongass National Forest, on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2019, a landslide occurred at mile post 3.46 on the Kasaan Road, closing the road and taking out electrical power to South Thorne Bay and Kasaan residents. Approximately 300 residents are affected by this road closure. The instability of the site presents a risk to people in and around the slide, as well as those who would be working on removal of debris and road reconstruction in the future. Agency personnel are working with local, borough, state, federal and tribal entities to respond to the immediate threat, while operating collectively to respond to future threats. Additional information available in the attached Fact Sheet (https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/AK_update.pdf) - Update from week of January 6, 2019

    • Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

      • The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center Winter Hours: The Visitor Center, Discovery Zone, and Discovery Southeast Bookstore are open all winter during Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m and during Friday nights for lectures. Outdoor areas around the visitor center are open 6 a.m. to midnight, year-round. This season's themes at the Visitor Center are: January: Glaciers and Oceans; February: Salmon Forest; March: Lesser Known Winged Things of AK - Update from 01/15/2019

      • The Visitor Center is hosting its second Fireside Lecture of the season on January 18, 2019, titled Outside Lies Magic by Forest Wagner. Climbing and skiing are exciting! Like many outdoor activities they can lead to physical and mental health, and engage and create deep connections with people and place. Forest Wagner, Assistant Professor of Outdoor Studies at UAS, loves skiing, climbing, and spending time outside and will discuss how it benefits us to do so. All Friday night Fireside Lectures begin at 6:30 p.m. and repeat at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. They are free of charge - Update from 01/15/2019

      • Starting in January, Discovery Southeast Bookstore will begin a rotating art exhibit (and sale!) to compliment the Fireside Chats presented by the USDA Forest Service at the Visitor Center. Each artist can submit one or more pieces. Anyone interested in contributing artwork or would like more information, can email bookstore manager, AnnMarie Ellison, at AnnMarie@discoverysoutheast.org - Update from 01/15/2019

      • For more information about activities at the visitor center call 907-789-0097.

State: Arizona
  • Coconino National Forest -
  • Prescott National Forest – Annual Area closures will begin for Granite Mountain and Thumb Butte on February 1st and last until July 15th providing for an undisturbed setting and quality nesting habitat essential for peregrines to successfully raise their young. For both locations, the closures will be the same as they have for over 20 years. On Granite Mountain, it is prohibited to be upon any part of the Granite Mountain rock cliff face or the rim above the rock face and extending 100 feet back from the edge of the cliff face by rock climbing or any other means of access.  Trail 261 will remain open.  On Thumb Butte, both the north and south climbing faces, the top of Thumb Butte, and the areas at the base of the climbing faces will be closed to entry - Update from 01/24/2019
State: California
  • Klamath National Forest - Klamath National Forest offices will be open on a temporary, limited basis to issue free personal use firewood permits.  These permits are being issued to ensure that emergency needs for firewood for heating, cooking, and other personal uses are being met in local communities.  The Klamath National Forest Headquarters Office (1711 South Main Street, Yreka) and the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District Office (63822 Highway 96, Happy Camp) will be open to issue permits on Wednesday, January 23 from 3 pm to 7 pm.   The Salmon/Scott River Ranger District Office (11263 North Highway 3, Fort Jones) and the Goosenest Ranger District Office (37805 Highway 97, Macdoel) will be open to issue permits on Thursday, January 24 from 3 pm to 7 pm - Update from 01/23/2019
  • Modoc National Forest
    • The Forest continues to provide daily care for wild horses at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals in Alturas, CA and is again placing horses gathered from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory in late 2018. Anyone with an adoption or sales application already turned in should hear from forest personnel soon. Those who would like to provide homes for horses and have not submitted paperwork should do so now. Please find applications and the required pickup planning form at https://go.usa.gov/xQ3r3 and submit them to modoc_info@fs.fed.us or Attn: Wild Horse Program, 225 W. 8th St., Alturas, CA, 96101. The Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals will remain closed to the public during the partial government shutdown. The Forest Service will plan an adoption event after funding is restored. Approximately 160 horses are available for adoption or sale at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals now (https://www.facebook.com/doubledevilwildhorsecorrals/). To date, 88 have found new homes through previous adoptions and sales.
    • Fuelwood tags are available at the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Alturas, CA on Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. and the Big Valley Ranger District in Adin, CA on Thursdays from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • San Bernardino National Forest - The USDA Forest Service will be unavailable to host the Saturday, January 12 bald eagle count at U.S. Forest Service locations in Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and Lake Hemet. Participants may still attend the count at Silverwood Lake and Lake Perris, which are run by California State Parks - Update from week of January 6, 2019
  • Six Rivers National Forest - Six Rivers National Forest District offices will be open on a temporary, limited basis to issue free personal use firewood permits.  These permits are being issued to ensure that emergency needs for firewood for heating, cooking, and other personal uses are being met in local communities.  The Six Rivers National Forest’s Mad River Ranger District, Orleans Ranger District, Willow Creek Ranger District and Smith River National Recreation Area  offices will be open to issue permits on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 3 pm until regular hours are restored - Update from 01/24/2019
  • The Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area (BWRA) on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest's Bridgeport Ranger District is open.  General information and avalanche forecasts are available at: https://www.bridgeportavalanchecenter.org - Update from week of January 6, 2019
State: Florida
  • National Forests in Florida
    • Apalachicola National Forest - most recreation sites and trails continue to be closed due to damage sustained during Hurricane Michael. Leon Sinks, Mack Landing and the shooting ranges are among those that are open.
    • Osceola and Ocala National Forests - All recreation areas and trails are open using fees collected from users (non-appropriated dollars).
    • All offices are closed and Forest Service has reduced staffing and services due to the lapse in funding. Some employees and services are being paid from other non-appropriated funds or funds appropriated in prior years primarily to maintain timber and road maintenance contracts and recreation areas as well as to prepare for wildfire prevention.
      • Update from week of January 25, 2019

        State: Idaho

  • Boise National Forest - The Boise National Forest is announcing an additional 30-day comment period for the CuMo Exploration Project Supplemental Redline Environmental Assessment (SREA) to assure that interested parties have sufficient time to effectively participate. More information available at: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Boise_National_Forest_update.pdf - Update from 01/24/2019
  • Payette National Forest - The Payette National Forest has approved the salvage of timber burned in the 2018 Mesa fire near Council, ID. The Forest utilized 36 CFR 220.6(e)(13), a categorical exclusion decision to authorize the salvage harvest of fire-damaged trees on 236 acres using ground based logging systems. The salvage timber sale has been advertised and the Forest expects to award the sale in early February 2019. This decision is not subject to administrative review - Update from 01/24/2019
  • Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests
    • All offices on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are closed. The Lolo Pass Visitor Center bathrooms are open - Update from week of January 6, 2019
    • A limited number of employees are working to protect basic health and safety, manage shutdown related information, administer the 8 active timber sales, and work on some other critical priorities using prior year funds - Update from week of January 6, 2019
    • The  Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is currently applying for grant funding from three of the State of Idaho Parks and Recreation’s funds; Recreational Road and Bridge Program, Recreation Trails Program (RTP) and Off Road Motor Vehicle (ORMV) Programs to supplement funding for several projects. For more details and for information on how to submit questions and comments, please refer to this press release. (https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/20190118NPCGrantApplicationIDPRPressRelease.pdf).  Update from 01/18/2019
State: Kentucky
  • Daniel Boone National Forest 
    • All offices, developed recreation facilities, and restrooms are closed.
    • All trails and boat ramps are open.
    • A number of roads are closed for the winter to prevent damage during wet weather.
    • A limited number of employees are protecting health and safety, providing minimal services and completing priority projects.
State: Mississippi
  • The Delta National Forest is closed to motorized vehicle access, excluding boats, as a safety precaution to protect the public and limit damage to roads and natural resources from flooding. The emergency closure order, pursuant to Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR 261.50(a) and (b), and for the protection of the public and natural resources, is effective immediately until an undetermined date when the floodwaters recede. Press release can be found at: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/News_Release_Delta_NF_Flooding_Closure.pdf - Update from 01/15/2019
State: New Mexico
State: Oregon
  • Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – Concessionaire-run Multnomah Falls Lodge is open. USFS fee sites in the Gorge have open restrooms, with limited maintenance. Legal closures and regulations, including post-fire site closures, are still being enforced. Limited work on historic highway construction, county development reviews, and management plan review will occur. Eagle Creek Fire response and standard resource management activities have been halted. Status and condition updates will not be posted for USFS sites; check state park websites separately for their status. Visitors are advised to pack out their own pet waste and trash. More details: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/USDA_Briefing_Paper_CRGNSA_During_Shutdown.pdfUpdate from 01/23/2019
  • Deschutes National Forest - the Deschutes National Forest is a popular destination for winter recreation.  At this time special use permit holders who have recreation facilities located on national forest lands are continuing to operate.  Limited maintenance of toilet and trash services at winter recreation sites including SnoParks and the Deschutes River trail is provided. Snoparks continue to have snow removal services through the State SnoPark program.  During the partial government shutdown Forest Service personnel are managing active forest stewardship projects and timber sales, Forest Service law enforcement personnel are still serving the public and protecting public lands, and the hiring of key temporary fire and resource specialists to prepare for the upcoming fire and field seasons continues. For more information: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Deschutes_National_Forest_Briefing_Paper.pdf - Update from 01/24/2019
  • Fremont-Winema - Due to lapse in appropriations, all offices on the Fremont-Winema National Forest are currently closed.  During this time, limited Forest Service personnel continue to work on critical activities such as forest management projects that include non-fire fuels treatments, long-term timber sale administration, advertisement and sales of FY19 timber sales, reforestation and restoration activities. Grazing management projects include critical time sensitive meetings with permittees and Endangered Species Act consultation preparations.  Recreation activities are limited to providing minimal services where appropriate. Engineering activities are limited to critical non-emergency road repairs. For more information: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Fre-Win_Status_Update.pdf  - Update from 01/25/2019
  • Malheur National Forest - the Malheur National Forest continues to conduct critical work needed to protect health, safety and assets during this lapse in funding.  This critical work is utilizing non-appropriated funding which includes prior year funding and trust funds. Limited services provided include law enforcement support for public safety on the forest, timber sale preparation and forest management activities, and temporary hiring for the upcoming fire season. For more information: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Malheur_National_Forest_Operations_Update.pdf - Update from 01/24/2019
  • Mt. Hood National Forest - The Mt. Hood National Forest is a popular destination for winter recreation. Many of these recreation opportunities are provided through partners or permit holders, such as resorts, ski areas, and organizational camps, and they will continue to operate. The Forest has not suspended any of the operations for these permit holders. During the     shutdown, the forest will not be maintaining trailheads, trails, or the forest website. A few campgrounds and day use sites remain open, and are being operated by a concessionaire. The complete update can be found at: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/MTH-OperationalUpdate012319v2.pdf - Update from 01/25/2019
  • Ochoco & Crooked River National Grassland - During the partial government shutdown, the Ochoco National Forest & Crooked River National Grassland continue to provide limited services to the public, permit holders, and partners, using non-appropriated fiscal year 2019 dollars. A list of services the Forest and Grassland continue to provide during the lapse in funding can be found at https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Ochoco_NF_Crooked_River_National_Grassland_BP.pdf - Update from 01/25/2019
  • Siuslaw National Forest - During the partial government shutdown, Siuslaw National Forest Service leadership and personnel have identified essential activities, utilizing non-appropriated FY19 dollars, to continue during this time in order to provide basic services to the public, manage critical business functions, address emerging health and safety issues, and maintain high priority public assets.  Limited forest management, timber sale preparation and recreation services are being conducted. The Cape Perpetua visitor center is continuing normal winter operations. For more information: : https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Siuslaw_operations_update.pdf - Update from 01/24/2019
  • Wallowa-Whitman - The enjoyment of your National Forest during the partial government shutdown is important. However, Forest Service offices are closed, and staff are not maintaining facilities such as campgrounds and trailheads.  There is minimal updates to forest website and social media accounts. Recreation opportunities provided by partners and permit holders, such as the Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, remain open and available. For more information: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/WAW_ongoing_projects_summary.pdf - Update from 01/25/2019
State: South Dakota
  • Black Hills National Forest - The Black Hills National Forest offices will be open temporarily on January 25th from 12:00 pm until 4:30 pm for the expressed purpose of issuing free use personal fuelwood permits to the public. More information can be found at: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Black_Hills_SD_firewood_v2.pdf - Update from 01/22/2019
State: Washington
  • Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – USFS fee sites in the Gorge have open restrooms, with limited maintenance. Legal closures and regulations are still being enforced. Limited work on county development reviews and management plan review will occur. Fuels treatment may occur. Standard resource management activities have been halted. Status and condition updates will not be posted for USFS sites; check state park websites separately for their status. Visitors are advised to pack out their own pet waste and trash. More details: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/USDA_Briefing_Paper_CRGNSA_During_Shutdown.pdf - Update from 01/23/2019
  • Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest - the Forest continues to move forward with work to support critical public services and forest management using non-fiscal year 2019 appropriated funds or grant funds. Some examples include grazing administration, fire season preparedness and firefighter hiring, Holden Mine remediation, timber sale preparation to support critical forest restoration priorities and winter recreation such as ski resorts or Sno-Parks. Staff are also working to complete time-sensitive NEPA planning for the Cougar Creek Fire Hazard Tree CE to address public safety in the greater Entiat Valley area. All Forest offices remain closed at this time. For more information: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/190123_BP_R6_OWNF_Shutdown_Update.pdf - Update from 01/24/2019
  • Olympic National Forest - As the partial lapse in federal government funding continues, the Olympic National Forest (Olympic NF) continues to move forward with work to support critical public services and forest management using non-fiscal year 2019 appropriated funds or grant funds. Limited activities include implementing forest restoration projects, oversight and administration of active timber sale contracts, and road maintenance.  More details: https://www.fs.fed.us/documents/shutdown/Olympic_NF_Operations_Update.pdf - Update from 01/25/2019
U.S. Territory: Puerto Rico
  • El Yunque National Forest - Has a small number of sites (9) and trails (5) open using fees collected from outfitter-guide permits (non-appropriated dollars). The Forest has reduced staffing and services because of the lapse in funding. Some employees and services are being paid from funds appropriated in prior years. Work repairing damage from 2018 hurricanes continues using supplemental funding approved by Congress last year. The following partners are also assisting: Naguabo Municipality, Amigos del Yunque, ACE and Eastern National - Update from week of January 6, 2019

 

USDA Forest Service ongoing work during the lapse in funding

The Forest Service continues to focus on work that protects public health and safety and public assets. The agency also continues activities considered part of an orderly shutdown. This is consistent with work identified as Category 1 and Category III of our shutdown plan. These activities may include: 

  • Wildland fire and safety
    • fire preparedness, fire suppression, critical fire training
    • law enforcement
  • Forest Management
    • short-term timber sale administration for ongoing sales with open payment units
  • Recreation
    • protection of closed recreation areas
    • activities that support health and safety such as support for search and rescue or emergency actions to protect the public
    • avalanche mitigation activities
  • Acquisitions
    • Contracts or Agreements needed to maintain orderly shutdown activities
  • Engineering
    • Facility protection and emergency repairs
    • Emergency road repairs

The Forest Service is evaluating and proceeding with some work using non-appropriated funds to continue critical business functions and public services with appropriate oversight. These activities fall under Category II of the existing shutdown plan. These activities may include:

  • Wildland Fire
    • Prescribed fire prep
    • Prescribed burning
  • Forest Management
    • Non-fire fuels treatments
    • Long-term timber sale administration
    • FY19 timber sale prep
    • NEPA for FY19 timber sales
    • Advertise and sell FY19 timber sales
    • Tree planting using non-appropriated funds
    • Reforestation and restoration activities, including tree nurseries
  • Grazing Management
    • Issuance of bills for permitted grazing
    • Compliance and implementation monitoring
    • Critical time-sensitive meetings with permittees
  • Recreation
    • Operations of open recreation areas
    • Providing minimal services where appropriate
    • Administering and processing special use permits
  • Acquisitions and Agreements
    • processing new contracts and agreements needed for critical work that can be supported with non-appropriated funds
  • Engineering
    • Critical non-emergency road repairs
  • Wildlife
    • wildlife projects using non-appropriated funds
  • Other
    • Pipeline litigation using cost recovery funds
    • Hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico
    • Operating the Savannah River Site
    • Operating seed labs using user fees
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