U.S. Forest Service, Dillon Ranger District back online after shutdown
After the longest federal government shutdown in history, the U.S. Forest Service is back to full strength — at least temporarily — and is surveying what, if anything, was damaged or lost at the White River National Forest over those unattended five weeks. Dillon ranger Bill Jackson is back in the district office after working from home during the shutdown as an “excepted” employee; one who is required to work but was not paid during that time. Jackson said that he could only do the work essential for functions such as protection of people and property alongside forest service law enforcement who were also working without pay for over a month. With a full staff back on board, Jackson has been surveying the forest and its public access points since Monday. So far, thankfully, there does not seem to be any significant damage or vandalism in the forest, which Jackson attributes mainly to the fact that it’s winter and most recreation sites were already closed. However, there is significant cleanup being done to two bathrooms at Shrine Pass and Sapphire Point, which can be most tactfully described as fecal-splattered. However, Jackson credited volunteers, including the Vail Pass Task Force, who groomed the trails and oversaw the plowing at parking lots. Jackson also thanked a volunteer who cleaned up trash that had started to overflow at Sapphire Point. “I didn’t catch her name, but I saw a social media post about this, and it was very much appreciated,” Jackson said.
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