The Washington Post

Sequester hits Interior Department campsites

A caribou walks across Bureau of Land Management lands near the Brooks Range in northern Alaska. (Al Grillo/AP)

The Bureau of Land Management has clamped a freeze on “all hiring with the exception of” seasonal firefighters, and it won’t be filling many existing job vacancies.

This means, according to a March 7 memo to all employees from Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze, that “many campgrounds and visitor facilities will close or will operate at reduced capacity.” And processing of leases “for oil and gas, coal, solar, wind and geothermal energy will be diminished.”

College students and others looking for summer jobs helping visitors and such will likely be be out of luck.

What’s more, Kornze said, there may be glitches in granting “drilling permits, rights-of-way, recreation and grazing permits and timber sales.”

There’s a “travel ban for all but essential travel,” which the memo says “includes ONLY the following: travel that is critical for health and safety and travel that is determined to be mission critical.” (Hmm ... might not include your trip to that land-use conference in Rio.)

And, despite your First Amendment right of peaceable assembly, “large gatherings are canceled.” So don’t loiter by the water cooler.

The good news is no furloughs. Well, “at this time.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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