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Olympic National Park to close as part of Federal shutdown

October 1st, 2013 - 5:40am

(Port Angeles) -- The federal government has begun a partial shutdown after congressional Republicans demanded changes in the nation's health care law as the price for essential federal funding and President Barack Obama and Democrats refused.

As a result, the Olympic National Park will be closed, its visitors will be told to go home by Thursday and more than a hundred employees will be furloughed.

Olympic National Park officials say that all park entrances will be closed and secured.

Visitors centers and all other facilities will be closed.

Guests in hotels at the concessionaire lodges and campgrounds will be given 48 hours notice to leave beginning tonight.

Some park employees will be continuing to work during the shutdown for emergency response and security purposes, as well as maintenance of sanitation systems.

All park employees will report to work today then spend a half day performing shutdown operations.

Highway 101 at Lake Crescent and along the coast south of Forks will be unaffected.

HOMELAND SECURITY

Homeland Security functions including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Border Patrol are unaffected by the government shutdown.

However, the federal office building in downtown Port Angeles will be closed.

POSTAL SERVICE

The U.S. Postal Service is unaffected because it relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running and receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations.

FOOD ASSISTANCE

State Department of Health spokesman Tim Church says that the agency would be able to continue to provide the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, for nine days after a shutdown.

After that, the program, which provides checks for supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their young children, would shut down.

About 195-thousand people a month are served under the program.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS:

The Employment Security Department says that it will continue paying unemployment benefits through this week, but says that it is uncertain whether officials would be able to maintain that if a federal shutdown lasts until next week.

NATIONAL GUARD

State Department of the Military spokeswoman Karina Shagren says Fulltime active guardsmen will not be furloughed, but roughly one-thousand federal technicians, including vehicle and aircraft maintenance workers, computer technicians and human resources personnel will be furloughed starting today.

Shagren says employees have been told to come in today to receive further instructions.

The governor would still be able to activate furloughed employees in case of an emergency that required him to call up the National Guard.

TRANSPORTATION:

Department of Transportation spokesman Lars Erickson says current highway projects aren't at immediate risk, but if the shutdown lasts for more than a month, it could hold up permitting on some projects, potentially causing delays.


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