ANF undoing its shutdown

The shutdown is over and the Allegheny National Forest is back to work.

With the exceptions of those who are scheduled for leave and those who are scheduled not to work until Monday, everyone is back. “The recall of employees went smoothly,” Public Affairs Specialist Lori Elmquist said.

The majority of the forest’s employees were furloughed for the three weeks of the shutdown. A skeleton crew kept the essential operations running.

“A small group of employees including the law enforcement officers, fire personnel, Forest Supervisor, and District Rangers, worked through the shutdown,” Elmquist said. “They were able to address any issues that occurred.”

“The Forest was generally calm during the shutdown,” she said. “There were some minor incidents of sign vandalism that law enforcement is addressing.”

There was also a fire call.

“A small fire was reported on Friday evening that was addressed in cooperation with the State Bureau of Forestry and local volunteer fire departments,” Elmquist said.

With the personnel back at work, ANF facilities are also returning to operation.

“We are currently working through an ‘orderly start-up’ of operations,” Elmquist said. “Sites like Rimrock and Jakes Rocks are being opened as field-going personnel can get to the areas.”

Concessionaires will be in charge of opening the following sites: Red Bridge (except showers); Willow Bay (except showers); Tracy Ridge; Minister Creek; Handsome Lake; Hooks Brook; Hopewell; Morrison; and Pine Grove.

Some facilities will open in time to close for the season. Elmquist said, “The following campgrounds will only be open this weekend and then close as scheduled: Buckaloons (showers open), Heart’s Content, Loleta lower loop (except showers), and Twin Lakes (except showers).”

The cutting of timber on the forest was suspended during the shutdown. “As of today, all timber purchasers and operators received verbal notice that they could resume harvesting and hauling operations immediately,” Elmquist said. “They will also receive written notices by mail.”

“Oil and gas activities continued without interruption,” she said.