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Shutdown could halt activity at BLM, preserve, military bases

Some services, financial assistance available for military families

The impasse congressional lawmakers find themselves in as of Friday afternoon regarding government spending for fiscal year 2012 may halt activity and services at local military instillations and agencies operated by the federal government.

If a government shutdown occurs, most government workers, including civilians at Fort Irwin and Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, could be furloughed Monday. Active duty personnel will still report to work on Monday, but won’t be paid for the hours they work until lawmakers reach a compromise. Law enforcement, fire protection and emergency medical services on both bases will still be available, however.

A government shutdown could also shut down operation at the Bureau of Land Management and the Mojave National Preserve.

Congress has been negotiating spending for fiscal year 2012. They must come to an agreement by midnight EST Friday night when federal appropriations for fiscal year 2011 run out.

Even though active duty military will be working without pay, once lawmakers reach a compromise, they will receive back pay, according to Lt. Col. Alayne Conway with the U.S. Army Public Affairs Office.

Civilian employees with Northrup Grummon have been told to report to work Monday morning where they will receive further instructions if they have to be furloughed, according to Mark Sielski, a database administrator and special projects coordinator for Northrup Grummon. Sielski said his mother, who works at MCLB, received similar information Friday.

Northrup Grummon employees will be able to apply for unemployment as well as receive vacation pay if they have accrued enough hours, Sielski said. The furlough could last up to 60 days, but Sielski said he doesn’t think it will last more than a few days.

“I’m not playing Democrats against Republicans,” he said. “I can’t even fathom what they’re trying to do.”

Army personnel and their families who find themselves short on funds as a result of the government shutdown can obtain a no-interest loan through the Army Emergency Relief Fund, Wagstaffe said. Marine and Navy personnel can obtain loans through the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

A government shutdown could also close visitors centers and campgrounds by Saturday at the Mojave National Preserve, according to park ranger Linda Slater. Paved roads through the preserve will still be open, but emergency services will be limited.

Campgrounds operated by the Bureau of Land Management, such as Afton Canyon and Owl Canyon Campground, will also be closed. The only BLM employees that will be working are law enforcement workers, according to spokesman David Briery.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com


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