On Heels Of California’s Deadliest Fire, Officials Worry That Shutdown Has Left Them Unprepared For Next Season
“We’re already getting very close to the early stages of fire season,” said one former National Park Service superintendent. “Training is not happening right now, hiring is not happening for the summer season — all of that hiring is not happening." Other news on the shutdown looks at the impact to rural health programs.
Wildfire Season Preparations Delayed By Shutdown
Park rangers are worrying about the lasting effects from the recent shutdown, particularly when it comes to preparations for the next fire season. The longest shutdown in U.S. history ended on Friday after 35 days, and it coincided with the crucial fire season planning period for many national parks and forests. (Green, 1/29)
The San Francisco Chronicle:
Wildfire Prevention: Can California Make Up Ground Lost To Shutdown?
During the shutdown, no new logging projects went forward, nor did fuel reduction programs like brush clearing, controlled fires and slash-pile burns. Also, much of the planning and hiring of firefighters that typically gets done in winter was put on hold. Some federal employees, unauthorized to speak to the media, say fire programs at national parks and forests won’t be fully staffed before the new fire season begins. “A lot of preparation just didn’t happen,” said Stephen Graydon, a former firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service and now executive director of Terra Fuego, a Butte County organization that works with the government to reduce fire risk. “It’s hard enough to get ahead on large-scale forest treatments. While I can’t give you a number of acres that wasn’t treated during the shutdown, we’ve lost opportunities. The shutdown will have a lasting effect.” (Alexander, 1/26)
Shutdown Puts Rural Health Projects On Hold
Rural health programs and projects frozen by the federal shutdown could be delayed for months, even if Congress and President Donald Trump reach a long-term deal to fund the government. Projects to build homeless shelters, domestic abuse victim centers, rural hospitals and addiction treatment facilities around the country have been put on hold since the government shutdown began in December. Program managers worry the delay could set back these crucial services long after the funding impasse in Washington is resolved. (Ehley, 1/25)