YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – Federal workers at Yellowstone National Park are back at work — and happy to be doing so.
You might think that workers returning from a 35-day furlough like those at the Mammoth Visitors Center might be angry, or even frustrated at the big backlog of work in front of them — but we found much the opposite.
“They were happy. They’re really happy to be back at work,” Yellowstone National Park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin.
That certainly seemed to show at the Mammoth Visitor Center where staffers are once again helping people find animals and learn trails in the park. But, there’s work to do.
“Beginning to think through how do we prioritize our workload now,” Warthin said.
There’s a backlog of backcountry and film permits to work through and the park is a month behind on hiring summer staff.
“We are committed to it now. That is one of the highest priorities for the park right now. So, we are hopeful that we will be able to fill those needs,” Warthin told MTN News.
There’s also snow to clear and a myriad of animal and other environmental studies that will never get those 35 days back. But people in Gardiner are just happy to get the park workers back.
“That payroll gets put back into the community ten times,” said Wade Laubach who owns the Conoco gas station in Gardiner.
People in nearby Gardiner stepped up big time to help their friends who were left without a paycheck during the shutdown, but they suffered too, “and, for small communities like this one, it’s really, really important,” Laubach said.
Because community matters, “my family’s been in this county for a century, any, you know, I grew up here and it means a lot to me, so it’s important to me to have this community thrive,” Laubach said.
Park officials say they’re already putting plans in place in case the politicians in Washington, DC can’t reach a compromise and another shutdown comes in three weeks.
Organizers of a food pantry for park workers say they’re keeping the shelves stocked too, just in case.