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Partial Government Shutdown Fouls Up Park Visits

Jimmy Emerson

Closed national parks will be one of the first visible effects of the partial government shutdown expected to begin Tuesday. National forest and BLM campgrounds will also close.

The temporary closure of national parks throughout the West is forcing lots of people to revise their plans. The timing of the federal shutdown caused particular frustration at a Portland alternative public school. They've been planning a three-night field trip to Crater Lake National Park for the past six months.

Metropolitan Learning Center teacher Ned Hascall says the trip can't be rescheduled easily.

"After this date, the snow starts to fall. It's too risky to take children up there any later in the season."

Hascall says the 104 students and about 45 adults are determined to salvage what they can of their planned trip. They moved their base camp to a state park in southern Oregon.

He says the fourth, fifth and sixth graders are learning a lot more about the different branches of government than originally envisioned.

Civilian workers at Northwest military bases are another category of people feeling the bite of the government shutdown right away. Earlier Monday, the acting commander of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton notified of about 3,500 civilians that they are subject to furlough.

In his message, Captain Mike Lee said, "Everyone is expected to come to work on Tuesday. Given the size and complexity of this Command, shutting down work October 1st will most likely take a full shift for grave and day shifts."

In total, the U.S. Navy employs about 16,000 civilians in Northwest region.

Separately, the federal science agency NOAA plans to recall two West Coast-based research ships in mid-cruise. Via email, a NOAA spokeswoman says the NOAA ship Rainier will take five days to return to its homeport in Newport, Oregon from Alaska. The Fairweather, another large survey and research ship, is being recalled to Newport from California waters.

In Richland, the Pacific Northwest National Lab plans to stay open. Spokeswoman Mary Beckman says, "PNNL will use its backlog (unspent funds from previous years) to cover operations."

Federal prison guards, federal law enforcement, airport screeners and air traffic controllers have been exempted from the shutdown. The National Weather Service is also considered essential and will continue operating normally.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.