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Fri October 4, 2013
Federal Shutdown Leaves Local Services Unavailable, Delayed
The partial U.S. government shutdown is leaving some field offices and public lands in the WKMS listening area understaffed or closed entirely.
U.S. Forestry Service-managed Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is only under federal security. Forestry lands are under a seven-day shutdown process, and un-furloughed employees are only responsible for protection of lands and research and prevention of fires or other damages to public property. LBL’s website states that it is closed, along with all federal offices, and it links potential visitors to the USDA website, which is also temporarily shut down.
Other federal lands, including wildlife refuge areas and national forests are closed. Shawnee National Forest roads is open for private business, land and home-owners, but park-related facilities are closed and un-staffed.
Department of Agriculture sub-agency offices, including Rural Development, Natural Resources Conservation Services and Farm Services, are all in the early stages of phasing out services, and will be largely unavailable for new or continuing services until funds are appropriated.
Rural Development field offices will not be available for any new loans or grants and staff furlough reductions are at more than 50 percent.
The NRCS is unavailable for technical assistance to farmers or land owners on soil sampling or land management. Offices are only staffed for technology maintenance and potential disaster response and management.
Finally, the Farm Service Agency offices, which are responsible for administrating and managing farm and land management conservation and laws, are entirely unstaffed. Headquarter offices will manage information until field offices can re-open.
Social Security Administrative offices are open to business, and checks are still being printed, but new accounts are not being granted. Most services related to Social Security cards – including new or replacement cards – have also been temporarily discontinued, along with benefits verifications, Medicaid card replacements and payee accountings.
Federal Judicial services at district courts in Paducah and Owensboro are only partially disrupted. Judges will continue to hear cases already scheduled and some court employees may go unpaid until Congress passes a bill.