Hanford

Here’s how the federal shutdown is affecting hunting and Hanford

Hikers take a walk on a trail past a gate with a government shutdown sign at McNary National Wildlife Refuge near Burbank.
Hikers take a walk on a trail past a gate with a government shutdown sign at McNary National Wildlife Refuge near Burbank. Tri-City Herald

The effects of the partial federal shutdown have reached some Tri-City area hunters and oversight of Hanford.

The federal courthouse in Richland might be the next to be impacted.

At the McNary Wildlife Refuge south of Pasco near Burbank, fee hunting areas are closed for the duration of the shutdown. Only essential Fish and Wildlife Service employees are working.

The closure also includes the McNary refuge office on Maple Street in Burbank, which includes the area’s hunter check station — a popular place to buy National Park Passes, including the lifetime pass for seniors.

Areas of the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which include the Hanford Reach National Monument, that are not typically staffed remain open to the public.

However, use of the refuges is at the visitors’ own risk, according to a statement from the complex.

Winter waterfowl ducks
At the McNary Wildlife Refuge south of Pasco near Burbank, fee hunting areas are closed for the duration of the federal shutdown. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

At Hanford most work continues as usual, because the Department of Energy funding bill for fiscal 2019 was approved by Congress and signed by President Trump in September.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency, a Hanford nuclear reservation regulator, has closed its Richland office for the duration of the shutdown, according to a message on the local office phone line.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a DOE national lab, has had only minimal impacts since the federal shutdown began Dec. 22.

Although other federal agencies also pay for research at the federal lab in Richland, most funding is not impacted at this time, said PNNL spokesman Greg Koller.

PNNL, which employs about 4,400, is looking at possible impacts daily, he said.

The Eastern Washington District U.S. Court, which includes the federal courthouse in the Federal Building in Richland, plans to continue operating through the end of next week, according to a posting on its website.

If the shutdown continues into the week of Jan. 14, exhausting the court’s financial resources, it would then operate as necessary to meet Constitutional requirements. Contingency plans are being made in case that happens.

Images of the problems with human waste and trash due to a partial federal government shutdown are seen on social media.

Some federal workers in the Mid-Columbia are continuing to work, but without pay. Transportation Security Agency and Coast Guard workers are among those showing up to work who are not currently being paid.

Parts of the government shutdown after spending bills for some agencies were not passed and an temporary spending bill expired as Trump and Democrats in Congress disagreed over money to help build a wall at the U.S. and Mexico border.

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