Rocky Mountain National Park employees return to work, hope to limit impact of government shutdown
Rocky Mountain National Park employees returned to work this week and they have begun to catch up on the backlog of work that formed during the longest government shutdown in the country’s history.
Kyle Patterson, public affairs officer for the park, said in a press release that the top priority this week was processing payroll so that employees could begin receiving pay.
Next, the park staff will reassess hiring priorities and park projects for this year, so as to limit the impact of the shutdown and work on getting contracts for projects back on board.
During the shutdown, the park did experience illegal activity, according to Patterson, though it was mostly limited to people driving around locked gates into meadows and bringing dogs on trails.
“Compared to what some other national park sites experienced in resource damage and illegal activity, we were fortunate that the majority of visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park were remarkable stewards during the shutdown, some going above and beyond in their support and care for their beloved national park,” Patterson said in the release.
On the second week of the shutdown, park staff took preemptive measures by sealing trash containers and closing vault toilets, as well as maintaining a high law enforcement presence in the park to protect resources.
When the park received approval to use fee funds to bring back a limited number of employees on Jan. 12, a small staff of custodians began cleaning trash and bathroom facilities to prepare for the park reopening.
Patterson emphasized the park staff’s gratitude for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy for staffing the Fall River Visitor’s Center, located near the Fall River Entrance, during the entirety of the shutdown. She also thanked neighbors, local businesses, organizations, and national park enthusiasts for their support.
“We cannot emphasize enough how a simple expression of “we are thinking of you” meant to park staff during the shutdown,” she said.
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