Our opinion: Essential v. Nonessential

If you were thinking the Rimrock or Jakes Rocks overlooks might be good spots to enjoy the fall colors this weekend, you might want to think of an alternative.

As of Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service, a part of the federal government that includes a number of “nonessential services,” officially closed campgrounds and other developed facilities. Hikers, backpackers, hunters, boaters and climbers will still be able to drive forest roads and get into the places they play, however.

The contracted operator of the Allegheny National Forest’s campgrounds told the Times Observer on Thursday that he has 48 hours to empty campsites, cancel reservations, and then close them down. The gates to Rimrock and Jakes Rocks have been closed and locked.

So, if you are so inclined and determined to get that perfect fall foliage panorama photo on your digital wonder-camera, you’ll have to hoof it to find a vista.

It’s all part of the sometimes confusing and frustrating price we pay for the current bollix in Congress.

This is Day Four of the federal shutdown, and, if reports emanating from Washington are an indication, there will be many more to come, bringing with them ever more visible consequences as individual agencies and programs, such as Head Start, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, and agricultural subsidies and programs, among others, run out of money and grind to a halt.

Meanwhile, congressmen in Washington, including Mike Kelly, who represented Warren County before his district was re-drawn, were standing in front of veterans monuments, sternly calling on the President to reopen them for the sake of veterans. Where they should have been standing was in front of the Veterans Administration, where tens of thousands of veterans’ aid applications will be held in limbo if the shutdown continues much longer.

Processing aid and attendance applications – the kind of thing that veterans need more than monuments and are already horribly backlogged – aren’t nearly as good for photo ops.