Government shutdown: What’s open, what’s not

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The federal government partial shutdown, which began this weekend, is expected to affect some services pertaining to national parks and forest managed by Washington, DC. The real effect will more likely be noticed on Monday.

The National Elk Refuge (USFWS) appears to be most ahead of the game as it announced contingency plans yesterday in the event a temporary deal could not be reached to extend the budget. NER operates the Visitor Center and, along with the Chamber, all efforts will be made to keep things running in Jackson.

The Chamber of Commerce passed along the following:

  • The Home Ranch Welcome Center, located at 210 N. Cache Street, will temporarily operate as the visitor’s center with Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce agents from 9am-5pm
  • The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, located at 260 W. Broadway, will be open and operating over the weekend and answering phones from 9am-5pm
  • Sleigh riders are encouraged to continue parking at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, two blocks north of the Home Ranch Welcome Center, and walk to the temporary sleigh ride ticket sales location.
  • Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park will currently remain open with no expected services until there has been a resolution

National Elk Refuge

  • The Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, located at 532 N. Cache Street in Jackson, will remain closed until further notice. This includes the postponement of any scheduled educational programs at the facility. General travel and area information will be available from the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce’s main office at 260 W. Broadway or their satellite location in the Home Ranch Welcome Center, located at 210 N. Cache Street. The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce can also be reached at (307) 733-3316.
  • The National Elk Refuge’s web site at fws.gov/refuge/National_Elk_Refuge will not be updated in the interim and may be temporarily taken off-line. Refuge staff will not be posting to social media sites.
  • The Refuge Road will remain open as a travel corridor and access road to private lands. A Winter Wildlife Viewing Guide for travelers on the Refuge Road or North Highway 89/191 overlooks provides key information to minimize harm to wildlife and will also be available at the Home Ranch Welcome Center at 210 N. Cache Street.
  • Bison hunting on the National Elk Refuge will continue as scheduled through January 31, 2018. Hunters will be allowed into Refuge hunt areas if they have a current permit and valid matching license. Questions related to bison hunting can be directed to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s Jackson Office at 420 N. Cache Street or (307) 733-2321.

It is less clear what the National Park Service or US Forest Service are prepared to do in the event of a government shutdown. For the most part, critical services and public safety operations would continue. Concessionaires operating on public land would likely be allowed to continue their business.

Grand Teton National Park

In response to the lapse in federal appropriations, Grand Teton National Park is implementing its plan for a government shutdown. Government-operated facilities in the park will be closed. Visitors will be able to access the park, though no visitor services will be available.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “Visitors will be able to access Grand Teton National Park, but should plan ahead and use caution as park staff will not be available to provide guidance or assistance. If visitors see something that jeopardizes visitor safety or park resources, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3301.”
  • Park roads will remain open if they are essential to respond to emergencies-this includes most roads that are normally maintained and open at this time of year. Access to all residences will be maintained.
  • Emergency response will generally not be available.
  • Entrance stations will not be staffed.
  • Ranger-led snowshoe hikes will not be available.
  • Grooming of the Teton Park Road will continue through a partnership agreement with Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Grooming is scheduled on Tuesdays and Fridays depending on snow and weather conditions.
  • Teton Interagency Dispatch Center will be available during normal winter hours-6 am to 10 pm daily. Emergency 911 calls outside those hours will be directed to Teton County Dispatch as usual.
  • Park website and social media sites will not be maintained.
  • Concessioners and Commercial Use Authorization holders may continue to provide visitor services after coordination with the park to ensure compliance with government shutdown protocols.
  • Access to Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance will continue, including staging and winter services available at Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch in John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Yellowstone National Park

Government-run operations and facilities are closed. Visitors can access the road from Gardiner to the Northeast Entrance and all the commercial services along that route. Visitors can also access commercial services in the interior of the park (e.g. at Old Faithful) only as long as concessioners provide funds for road grooming. All park regulations, including those regarding oversnow travel, still apply. Guided snowmobile trips with commercial operators will be allowed, however, non-commercially guided snowmobile trips will not be allowed during the shutdown. If conditions become unsafe at any time, roads and/or developed areas in the park will be closed. The park will provide limited emergency response.

  • Government-run operations and facilities are closed. Entrance stations will not be staffed.
  • Visitors driving wheeled vehicles can access the road from Gardiner to the Northeast Entrance and all the commercial services along that route (including commercial services in Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower).
  • Visitors can also access commercial services in the interior of the park (e.g. at Old Faithful) only as long as concessioners provide funds for road grooming.
  • All park regulations, including those regarding oversnow travel, still apply. Guided snowmobile and snowcoach trips with commercial operators will be allowed, however, non-commercially guided snowmobile trips will not be allowed during the shutdown.
  • If conditions become unsafe at any time, roads and/or developed areas in the park will be closed.
  • The park will provide limited emergency response.
  • The park website and social media sites will not be maintained.
  • The public affairs office will be closed until the government reopens.

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