Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Government shutdown closes Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

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By KEVIN NEVERS

For Dunelanders who aren’t federal employees, the most obvious effect of the government shutdown--at least early on--is likely to be the closure of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The park, in fact, is closed, and it is now illegal to enter National Park Service property, NPS spokesman Bruce Rowe told the Chesterton Tribune early this morning.

All beaches, all trails, all parking lots, and all facilities--the Dunewood Campground and the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site among them--will remain off limits to the public for the duration of the shutdown, Rowe said. Signage is being posted at strategic locations to inform would-be visitors of the closure, in some cases sites are being gated, and campers at Dunewood have been given 48 hours to leave the National Lakeshore.

The closure will be enforced, Rowe added, because the full staff of about a dozen rangers--including dispatchers--has been exempted from furlough. Rangers will be working their normal patrol shifts. In case of emergency in or around the National Lakeshore, folks should call (800) PARK-TIP.

Also exempted from furlough: about a dozen firefighters, although half a dozen more have been furloughed. The latter will be available for duty in case of an emergency, Rowe said.

All public throughways in the National Lakeshore will remain open, however, as will the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, at least that part of the Visitor Center which is staffed by county tourism employees. The bookstore at the Visitor Center will be shuttered and there will be no NPS staff on duty there, Rowe said.

Rowe did say that he’s hopeful, for any number of reasons, that the shutdown ends quickly. Here’s one of them: if it doesn’t the annual Century of Progress Homes Tour--scheduled for Oct. 19 and with all 650 spaces already reserved--will have to be canceled or at a minimum postponed.

State of Indiana

Facilities Unaffected

Dunelanders hankering for a hike over the next few days can always visit Indiana Dunes State Park, which is a State of Indiana facility, not a federal one, and where--as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said only today--it’s “business as usual.” Take Ind. 49 all the way north and you’re there.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced that its functions too remain unaffected by the federal government’s shutdown. DWD, along with “its WorkOne centers and regional partners, will continue operations as usual, including all unemployment insurance activities and training and education programs, for the foreseeable future, regardless of the partial federal government shutdown.”

Visclosky Comments

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, released this brief statement about the shutdown to the Chesterton Tribune today: “I am committed to working hard on behalf of my constituents and the institution in which I am privileged to serve, in order to continue the effective operation of the federal government and fulfill my obligations under the U.S. Constitution. I regret that some of my colleagues seem to have forgotten that we are elected to govern, and this can only be accomplished by deliberative discussions and reasonable compromise.”

Re: Shutdowns

A shutdown occurs “when there is a lapse in appropriations,” according to www.doi.gov.shutdown

That “lapse has an impact on those agencies, and those programs/activities, that were funded by the appropriation which lapsed.”

There have been short shutdowns over the years, in 1981, ‘82, 83’, ‘84, ‘86, ‘87, and ‘90, none of them lasting more than three days. There were two shutdowns in 1995, the first lasting five days, the second all of three weeks, beginning on Dec. 16 and ending on Jan. 6, 1996.

Not every federal employee by a long shot has been furloughed and in fact the Antideficiency Act distinguishes between “excepted activities,” which may continue despite the shutdown, and “non-excepted activities,” which may not.

There are two general sorts of excepted activity:

* Those “authorized by law,” under which “Congress provides express authority for agencies to enter into contracts or to borrow funds to accomplish some of their functions.” Thus the Department of Defense has so-called “food and forage” authority, permitting DOD to contract for clothing, food, and other necessary supplies.

* Those in response to “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

Any number of federal government functions will continue during the shutdown: FAA air traffic control; FBI, DEA, ATF, and Customs Service law enforcement; meat and poultry inspections; VA medical facilities; stock and commodity market supervision.

 

 

Posted 10/1/2013