Mount Hood National Forest, Gorge Scenic Area, brace for federal shutdown

April 8, 2011

With a federal government shutdown set to take effect at midnight tonight, the U.S. Forest Service is preparing to close up shop in the Mt. Hood National Forest and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Employees at local jurisdictions of the agencies were not authorized to speak on the record, but were preparing to not report to work if the shutdown goes into effect.

The shutdown could affect everything from campground registration, recreation access and the processing of permits.

An agency official, also not authorized to speak on the record, provided a copy of the national agency's shutdown procedures, which include the closure of any recreational sites that require a forest service staffer. Also, permit applications will be halted until the government is back up and running.

In the Mt. Hood National Forest, where campgrounds are still closed for the season, a short-term shutdown could have minimal visible impacts. Federal law enforcement and fire suppression efforts are deemed essential and thus would not be shut down and would continue to patrol.

However, websites which provide information about recreational areas and registration sites could potentially be taken offline during a shutdown.

Privately operated sites within the national forest, including ski areas and Timberline Lodge, will continue to be accessible.

Also if you need information on either the Mt. Hood National Forest or the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, no one will be around to answer the phones during a shutdown.

A few staffers may report to work Monday at local offices, but they will be largely working on closing them up for a shutdown.

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