Signs on the front door of the Olympic National Park visitor center in Port Angeles explain that the park will not provide services for the duration of the government shutdown and that visitors to the park do so at their own risk. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Signs on the front door of the Olympic National Park visitor center in Port Angeles explain that the park will not provide services for the duration of the government shutdown and that visitors to the park do so at their own risk. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Olympic National Park among agencies affected with partial federal government shutdown

Olympic National Park was open to visitors in some areas but without offering any services on Saturday, Dec. 22, after the House and Senate adjourned without a spending deal, ensuring a partial government shutdown at least through the day after Christmas.

The shutdown began at midnight Friday, Dec. 21. Congress was back in session the next day, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced shortly after 3 p.m. EST that no deal had been reached with President Donald Trump and that the Senate is adjourned until Thursday, Dec. 27, according to CBS News.

It’s the third government shutdown this year and, like the three-day shutdown in January, was prompted by disputes over immigration.

President Donald Trump is demanding $5 billion dollars for a Mexican border wall — a campaign promise —and lacks the votes in the Senate to pass a spending bill that grants him the money.

All Olympic National Park visitor centers, restrooms, contact stations and permit desks are closed because of the shutdown, which furloughs park employees.

Hurricane Ridge Road will remain closed to vehicle access by the public because the park will not conduct regular plowing of the road.

It will remain closed to vehicles “until the lapse of appropriations is resolved,” said Penny Wagner, park spokeswoman, who issued a news release on Dec. 22.

The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club had planned to open the rope tows in the ski and snowboard area at the ridge Saturday.

The Kalaloch Lodge and Lake Crescent Lodge will remain open with overnight lodging, gift shop and dining room. Lake Crescent Lodge operates through Jan. 2.

Visitors can use trails in the park but at their own risk, Wagner said. No visitor services will be provided. Emergency and rescue services will be limited.

“Park visitors are asked to use extreme caution if choosing to enter the park, as personnel will not be available to provide normal levels of assistance and emergency response,” Wagner said, adding that “cell phone coverage is not consistent within the park and in many places is unavailable.”

Some areas of the park were closed to vehicle access because of recent storm damage. Those will remain closed until the shutdown ends.

Among the road closures are the Queets and the Hoh Rain Forest, the Quinault Rain Forest, the Quinault Graves Creek Road and North Fork Road and vehicle access to Rialto Beach.

Already closed before the recent storm were Deer Park Road and Sol Duc Road — which are closed for the winter season — and the Elwha Olympic Hot Springs Road.

For more information about the park, see https://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm or call the recorded line at 360-565-3131.

An Olympic National Forest spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Its website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/olympic said it will not be updated until the closure is over.

Funding that has expired covers the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the State Department, the Interior Department, the Departure of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other federal entities.

Government employees who are considered essential, such as many Secret Service agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents and U.S. troops deployed at the border, are still working.

Nationwide, more than 420,000 federal employees will have to work without pay and more than 380,000 will be furloughed. Those who work will get paid eventually.

As of September, 532 federal employees were working on the North Olympic Peninsula — 371 in Clallam County and 161 in Jefferson County.

During the partial shutdown, the post office will stay open, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents will still work and air travel will continue.

The partial shutdown affects civilian U.S. Coast Guard employees but not search-and-rescue operations or essential personnel, according to the Coast Guard.

It does not affect Naval Magazine Indian Island or other U.S. Department of Defense operations.

At a White House bill signing on Thursday, Trump said the government was “totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”

The president blamed Democrats. Last week he had said that he would be “proud” to claim ownership of a shutdown in a fight for the wall. Campaigning for office two years ago, he had declared the wall would go up “so fast it will make your head spin.” He also promised Mexico would pay for it, which Mexico has said it will never do.

“This is our only chance that we’ll ever have, in our opinion, because of the world and the way it breaks out, to get great border security,” Trump said last week at the White House.

Democrats will take control of the House in January, and they oppose major funding for wall construction.

Said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, in a statement issued early Saturday morning: “This shutdown is truly absurd, and would not have happened if President Trump had simply ignored the 11th hour taunts of a handful of conservatives and instead moved forward with the Senate’s bipartisan bill.

“On behalf of families in Washington state and across the country who are now left wondering when they’ll get their next paycheck or when their government will be fully functioning, I’m urging Republicans to work with us to do the right thing and re-open the government as quickly as possible.”

With no deal reached, Trump will remain in D.C. for Christmas, the White House announced late Saturday. He had planned to vacation in Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Olympic National Park among agencies affected with partial federal government shutdown

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