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Shutdown could furlough 40,000 Utahns

Impacts » Most key services could continue, if shutdown is short. A long shutdown could have severe consequences.

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The governor’s office said national parks and related industry employ 129,000 Utahns.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued a statement that it will halt all activities "with the exception of law enforcement and emergency response functions." It will allow some commercial outfitters and guides to continue operations as long as they do not need BLM field monitoring. All campgrounds, boat ramps and other recreational sites will be closed.

At a glance

Agency plans

A list of contingency plans by major federal agencies for a government shutdown is available online at ow.ly/pmlnC.

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The U.S. Forest Service also said it plans to close operations except those needed for law enforcement and protection of resources.

Defense • Enlisted military personnel would continue to serve. About half the civilian employees of the Defense Department are expected to be furloughed — expected to bring some of the biggest cuts in Utah.

Internal Revenue Service • The agency issued a statement saying it could furlough about 90 percent of its employees, which could affect its large regional services center in Ogden.

The statement said it will halt all administrative functions not related to safety of life and protection of property. It said examples of services to be stopped include all non-automated collections, responding to taxpayer questions, audits and examination of returns.

Public education • Utah public schools won’t be affected, as long as the shutdown is relatively short. "We already have the federal funding we would receive for this school year," said Mark Peterson, public relations director for the Utah State Office of Education.

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However, he said if the shutdown drags on, "that’s another issue" and funding could be hurt. He adds that funding for school lunches will continue, and the program is exempt from the shutdown.

Higher education • Pell grants and direct student loans are expected to "have little to no impact," based on notices from the U.S. Department of Education, said Pam Silberman, communications director for the Utah System of Higher Education. However, a statement from the government’s office said future student financial aid applications will not be processed.

Transportation • Air traffic control will continue, as will security screening at airports.

The Utah Department of Transportation expects minimal impact on highway projects, as long as the shutdown lasts only a few days or weeks. "If it lasts more than a month, we will have to push some of our projects off for another month or so," said UDOT spokesman John Gleason.

Similarly, the Utah Transit Authority does not anticipate any delays with projects, including the Sugar House Streetcar line expected to open in December — if it receives final federal certification. UTA spokesman Remi Barron said only an extended federal shutdown would bring any noticeable impacts.

Law enforcement • Agencies such as the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency are exempt from shutdown. A Justice Department statement said it would continue with criminal prosecutions, but would curtail civil litigation as much as possible without compromising human life or the protection of property.

Federal courts are expected to continue normally for about 10 business days into a shutdown before they would need to furlough non-essential employees, but cases would continue to be heard.

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