BLM closure goes into fourth week
January 16, 2019
WORLAND – With the nationwide government shutdown entering week four, the Bureau of Land Management offices in Worland remain shuttered since Dec. 22, with none of the usual notices of services from the public information office, and all employees furloughed until further notice.
While local and state BLM representatives are unable to comment, and media requests to the Department of the Interior have gone unanswered, the agency has instead directed all inquires to a government contingency fact sheet on the BLM website (which advises it will not be updated or maintained during the shutdown).
According to the BLM shutdown contingency plan, many of the agency’s services governing more than 245 million acres of public lands will cease during shutdown, with the exception of some law enforcement and fire suppression capabilities.
While shut down, the agency offers no guarantees to fulfill the obligation of salaries and volunteer services by employees will not be accepted. Of the 9,260 employees of the agency, an estimated 7,000 have been placed in furlough status, with only 500 retained for emergency response and oil and gas inspectors.
Under the contingency plan, the BLM will shut down all visitor centers (unless operated by a third party) including trash collection and toilet cleaning, and signs will be installed to indicate closed areas of operation.
While permit areas, boat ramps, and campgrounds will remain open, public use is solely at the user’s risk and water systems and restrooms will not be available.
Until appropriations have been reinstated, all agencies affected by the shutdown are not obligated to pay on contracts to contractors working during the funding lapse, although the contracts may not be liquidated.