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Government Shutdown Impacts Rim Fire Recovery

Sonora, CA — The American Forest Resource Council (AFRC), an industry trade association which Sierra Pacific Industries belongs to, filed suit October 13th against the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). They are asking an Oregon Federal District Court to enjoin the agencies from suspending timber contracts during the government shutdown.

The Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment, Inc., (TuCARE) which was established to inform and advise the public on conservation and the wise use of natural resources was contacted regarding the local impact of the Federal Government shutdown.

TuCARE Executive Director Melinda Fleming says, “It is already negatively effecting us. Non agency personnel have not been paid for a while now. Some of [the money] they were owed prior to the shut down.” She says, “Not getting paid can be a big deal when we are talking fuel costs. They are being used to do things like shore up roads and their work has to stop because they are not allowed to go into the forest if there are no forest personnel to manage.” Forest roads remain closed.

Fleming says “As far as our government is concerned we can’t continue to spend money we don’t have. But it is a trickle down effect where we are going to have a lot of people who are doing or have done work that aren’t going to be able to pay their bills.”

Fleming couldn’t recall a government shut down effecting people like this before but noted that the Rim fire was a double whammy.

“Our economy has already been effected by the fire, to shut down Yosemite is ridiculous. That is an essential, because they (Groveland) depend on that gateway income. With the fire and then this of course they are going to be affected. It should not be happening on top of the devastation that has already happened.”

Fleming continues, “Right now for our forest, there is nothing that is going to be happening on the Stanislaus until paperwork is completed. As far as any kind of salvage, that won’t happen to next Spring or Fall.” Fleming stressed the importance of bringing in equipment to shore up roads to prevent erosion before winter. She says, “This shut down is going to prevent work like that from being completed if it continues, but as far as logging is concerned our private land owners, sierra pacific industries, they will continue to bring logs to the mill. No contract is going to be sold until a long process is completed. The shut down is not necessarily going to affect that process right now, but the planning process and the appropriate steps can’t begin and those people can’t begin to do all that paperwork.”