Info from Forest Service on Shutdown

Thanks to NAFSR for this link! There’s a lot of info, but the below talks about which activities are ongoing.  My thoughts and prayers go out to our suffering FS employees and their families.

The USDA Forest Service shutdown plan includes three categories of work that are excepted or exempt during a lapse in funding.

  • Category I – Law Enforcement and Health and Safety (excepted)
  • Category II – Activities not included in Category I and III; financed from available funds, where applicable (exempt)
  • Category III – Protect Life and Property (excepted)
  • Complete details on the Forest Service shutdown plan are available here:

Employees are designated under one of four categories during the partial shutdown: exempt, excepted, excepted on-call or furloughed.

  • An individual employee’s status may change throughout the partial shutdown. Supervisors will keep employees informed of changes in status and provide guidance as needed.
  • An exempt employee is not affected by a lapse in appropriations. This includes employees who are not funded by annually appropriated funds. Employees performing those functions will generally continue to be governed by the normal pay, leave, and other civil service rules.
  • Excepted and excepted on-call employees will work some or all their normal tour of duty during a furlough. They are guaranteed to be paid when Congress passes an appropriations bill.
  • Employees who are neither excepted nor exempt will be furloughed. Non-excepted, furloughed employees will be paid for the time spent in furlough status only if legislation is passed allowing for them to be paid.

There are a number of critical activities and training continuing under the three categories identified in the shutdown plan.

  • Any employees asked to participate in these activities will do so as excepted, excepted on-call or exempt.

  • Excepted and excepted on-call employees are guaranteed to be paid for the time worked when Congress passes an appropriations bill. Exempt employees continue to receive pay during the partial shutdown.

4 thoughts on “Info from Forest Service on Shutdown”

  1. Here’s more information from E&E News on what’s operational and what’s not:

    FOREST SERVICE: What programs are operating during shutdown? It’s muddled
    Marc Heller, E&E News reporter

    Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2019

    The Forest Service is making decisions about which programs are running during the partial government shutdown on a case-by-case basis.

    The “ever-changing” government shutdown leaves the Forest Service unable to predict how operations ranging from logging to wildfire preparedness will be affected, the agency said.

    As members of Congress express worry that national forests may become more vulnerable to wildfire as a result of the partial shutdown, the Forest Service acknowledged yesterday that many of its decisions about which programs are running and which aren’t are being made on a case-by-case basis.

    “USDA Forest Service operational status and requirements are evolving as the shutdown continues,” agency spokesman John Haynes told E&E News. “The agency is assessing and prioritizing the activities and programs we are able to maintain while in shutdown status. We are unable to speculate on specific impacts while the government shutdown is ongoing and ever-changing.”

    According to internal Forest Service memos, including advisories to regional foresters, new timber permits aren’t being issued, but projects that were already underway or received permits are continuing — until, at some point, they might be stopped.

    Activities that have a direct effect on public safety, such as avalanche prediction and law enforcement, carry on as essential functions.

    Mountain resorts on Forest Service land, such as ski areas, continue to operate as long as they don’t require day-to-day administration by Forest Service employees. So do environmental analyses for relicensing of hydroelectric facilities, for instance, in cooperation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to agency communications.

    Comment periods on reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act — a key part of forest-thinning projects, for instance — should be extended if the shutdown interrupted them, the agency’s headquarters told regional foresters.

    Sales of special-use permits for various public uses of national forests have been suspended. At the Modoc National Forest in California, the agency has stopped sales of horses for adoption but continues to care for them and will host an adoption event once the shutdown ends, the Forest Service said (see related story).

    Updates on some specific facilities are available on the Forest Service’s website. But detailed information on national forests around the country, including how much public access is available, is hard to come by.

    Agency activities that continue during the shutdown do so based on availability of money from the prior year’s appropriations or from contracts and grants, according to Forest Service memos. That means some timber projects can continue for a period of time, for instance, and some new projects can proceed on a case-by-case basis.

    “The focus is on protecting property and natural resources,” said Christopher French, acting deputy chief of the National Forest System, in a Dec. 27 memo to regional foresters. “Full shutdown of harvesting operations may occur in the future as other connected and necessary systems lose capability or funding.”

    In California, forest policy stakeholders have been on the lookout for possible post-fire logging in areas affected by the Camp Fire in November 2018. That project, like others that weren’t already approved, appears to be “on hold like a pause button,” said Chad Hanson, director and principal ecologist for the John Muir Project, which opposes logging on federal lands.

    In Congress, lawmakers are pressuring Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to keep as much running at the Forest Service as possible. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) told E&E News yesterday that he’s in regular contact with Perdue on matters such as wildfire preparedness.

    “We’re keeping a close eye on any impacts it’ll have on operations,” said Daines, who called for lawmakers to find a middle ground that can end the weekslong dispute. “We’re concerned about delays in training of Forest Service personnel getting into fire season, so it’s very concerning.”

    • Very little Forest Service timber lands were burned in the Camp Fire. I did see one Section of USFS land but, there were no trees to harvest. My guess is that more BLM land burned than Forest Service. Assuming that salvage projects are being planned is playing politics and providing misinformation, to further political goals.

      Can ANYONE show us a piece of Forest Service land that is under a current plan?!? (No, I didn’t think so!) There are a few possible areas of salvage, as these several Sections, that might be Forest Service lands, sit within the burned area.,-121.5321025,13.64z?hl=en Two of those Sections have no road access so, those are probably out of the picture, in any scenario. The third Section is mostly within a steep canyon. All three Sections sit within the WUI.

  2. Thanks for the welcome back and the recap of recent posts. I’ve been through 3 of these “longer” shutdowns in my career, and this was the worst one – it happened rather suddenly and there seemed to be no end in sight. I see that the FS is processing furlough timesheets already, so hopefully employees will get paid before their next rent/mortgage payment is due.

    • Thanks for the first hand account of the shutdown impact. It was interested to me that the shutdown ended when Trump signed the same exact bill from Congress that he refused to sign before the shutdown, even though that same bill (which Trump refused to sign) was passed by the GOP controlled House and the GOP controlled Senate. In addition to this being the “worst” government shutdown in your career, it would also appear to easily be the most pointless.


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