Federal shutdown ripples through Nevada facilities | NevadaAppeal.com

Federal shutdown ripples through Nevada facilities

Ken Ritter
Associated Press
Lake Mead National Recreation Area park maintenance worker Donna Curry tapes up a sign notifying visitors that the restroom facility at a picnic area is closed, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, near Boulder City, Nev. A partial government shutdown, caused by a budget impasse in Congress, has forced the closure of public sites including the nation's national parks. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

LAS VEGAS — Federal law enforcers were at work in Nevada on Tuesday, military units at Nellis Air Force Base remained at the ready, and federal prosecutors were in court.

But the Las Vegas office of Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid was locked, and a note on the door cited the partial government shutdown resulting from a stalemate in Congress over health care and the federal budget.

Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s office down the hall also was locked.

About 1,100 civilian employees were furloughed at Nellis, the base library was closed and service members waited to hear whether the base hospital, exchange store and other services would be affected.

“Essential services to national security and public safety will continue,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Taylor Worley, a base spokeswoman. “As of now, we haven’t heard what agencies will be available and what will not.”

Ripples of the political battle in Washington, D.C., were felt from national forests to military bombing ranges to the vast Nevada National Security Site in the state where more than 85 percent of land is federally controlled or administered.

Water and land management employees in the state were among 800,000 federal workers furloughed nationwide, and barricades went up at federal parks and conservation areas in Nevada such as Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area.

The scenic canyon, just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, usually draws more than 1 million visitors a year.

“Anything with a gate is closed,” JoLynn Worley, a federal Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman, said before she shuttered her own office.

Hoover Dam remained open to tourists, because the visitor center and public services are funded by customer fees, said Rose Davis, a federal Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman in Boulder City.

Davis also was furloughed along with more than 680 of the 805 bureau employees in the region stretching from Las Vegas to Phoenix to Yuma, Ariz., and Temecula, Calif.

Security was unaffected at Hoover Dam, and she said water deliveries and hydroelectric operations would continue and at the Davis, Parker and Imperial dams downstream.

At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, 170 of 220 employees were furloughed, campers were being given 48 hours of notice to leave, cruises and rafting trips were canceled, and organizers were told that weekend events might not take place, said Christie Vanover, National Park Service spokeswoman.

Among those who could be affected were 250 bass fishing anglers and 400 people who signed up for an 8-kilometer swimming race.

Concessionaires were told to close, but boat and recreational vehicle owners were allowed restricted access if they didn’t stay overnight, Vanover said. Pleasure boating was banned.

More than 525 of 850 full-time Nevada National Guard workers were furloughed, Maj. Dennis Fournier said.

The U.S. Forest Service closed offices and other facilities, including campgrounds and picnic areas.

Nevada’s 23 state parks, including Valley of Fire northeast of Las Vegas, remained open.