Many “non-essential” government agencies and programs temporarily got the boot Tuesday after Congress refused to reach a budget agreement, forcing our country into a government shutdown.
On Whidbey Island we lost service personnel at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, who are forced into furlough for an unknown amount of time and two employees were furloughed at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
Fortunately the reserve office is still operating. Because of its partnership with the trust board, grants and projects headed by the trust will still continue.
However, projects headed nationally, like Ferry House work, are discontinued for the time being.
All 401 National Park Service sites are closed across the country, including Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, Mount St. Helens National Monument and North Cascades National Park, as well as smaller units in the San Juan Islands and elsewhere. National Wildlife Refuges will also be closed.
According to the Washington Trail Association, all visitor centers and facilities are closed, people already in campgrounds or overnight facilities were given 48 hours to leave. All permits for backcountry camping and climbing were rescinded and no new permits are being issued.
All National Park Service websites were also taken offline, and staff have stopped posting to social media streams.
With all this national turmoil, there are some positives to consider.
The shutdown does not impact Whidbey’s five state parks.
Visitors can still continue to use the parks, a draw for many to the island, with their Discover Passes, of course.
So as the weather changes and fall starts encroaching into the landscape, visitors and residents can still retreat into the landscape that makes Whidbey Island so appealing to so many.
— Megan Hansen is editor of The Whidbey Examiner.