FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN IMPACTS IDAHO AGENCIES

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Rocky Barker reports:  Because of the federal government shutdown, all of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Idaho offices will be unable to provide support to the public, contractors, state and local agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.

But a team of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers technical experts are on the ground in Idaho today to help state and local governments put together a request for funding to prevent flooding and landslides after the Elk, Pony and Beaver Creek wildfires. They were out in Elmore and Blaine counties today because their project funding is from the 2013 fiscal budget, not the 2014 budget that begins today, said Gina Baltrusch, a Corps spokeswoman in Walla Walla.

“The shutdown isn’t going to affect those dollars,” Baltrusch said.

She was going down a list of tasks to carry out an “orderly shutdown” before she goes on furlough, when she will have to leave her Blackberry behind and end contact with the media and public.

Calls to several federal public information officers were not picked up early Tuesday, but most agencies are keeping at least one spokesman around.

National parks and national monuments are closed, but national forests are open, without services. But if a fire starts it will be put out.

The Bureau of Reclamation will operate its dams, and other essential services will continue.

The Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge’s Lake Lowell and Snake River Islands units are closed. That also bars access to fishing and upland game, waterfowl and deer hunting there.

For programs experiencing a lapse in appropriated funding, only limited functions would continue, such as those necessary to respond to emergencies and to protect human life or property, the Fish and Wildlife Service said in its release. Fish and wildlife management activities, public programs, meetings, hearings and events will also be cancelled.

Included in her orderly shutdown, Baltrusch was updating her passwords because they automatically end every 60 days. She’s not sure how long she will be gone or when her passwords expire.

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