The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 30, 2013

Shutdown would affect government workers, services

A federal government shutdown — because some Republicans in the House oppose a continuing resolution to fund government operations without changes in the Affordable Care Act — isn't expected to change much in Minnesota.

Airports will still be open. Federal food safety and inspection programs will continue. The Postal Service will still deliver mail, and Social Security and Medicare benefits will still be there.

"For most people the shutdown, if it's short, will be big theater in D.C., but little impact back home," University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said.

However, the roughly 19,000 federal employees in Minnesota who do not work for the Post Service could be sent home to wait out the shutdown — the first in 17 years.

Among them would be Julie Galonska, who handles media relations and several other jobs for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. It's one of five areas in Minnesota managed by the National Parks Service.

Galonska and almost all of the other park service employees are categorized as "non-essential" employees. They will be sidelined if the federal government shuts down.

"We remain hopeful that the federal government is not going to shut down," she said Monday.

Six National Park Service law enforcement officers who work on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway will remain on the job during a shutdown, Galonska said. But the park's two interpretive centers will be closed. So will all of the other facilities, including popular campsites along 230 miles of the Namekagon and upper St. Croix rivers.

Galonska said that could affect thousands of people.

"We are at the height of fall color season right now, or just about to approach it, so it does have an impact on our visitors," she said. "I checked on our visitation last October and at the riverway we had almost 7,000 visitors. Most of those coming during the first half of the month for peak fall color."

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