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Open or closed?

January 5, 2019

SPEARFISH — Can I visit our local national parks? Can I go feed the fish at DC Booth? Can I go snowmobiling on Forest Service lands?

The answer is, it depends: It depends where you go and what you want to do.

The partial governmental shutdown went into effect Dec. 22, 2018, and a stalemate between President Donald Trump and Congress has ensued. Trump continues to say the shutdown will last a long time, until Congress funds a wall on the U.S.-Mexican boarder. However, the amount he has demanded, and even his definition of “a wall,” has been on a pendulum.

How long the shutdown will continue is unknown. The Associated Press reported Friday afternoon that Trump indicated he could keep it closed for “months or even years.”

“We told the president we needed the government open. He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

This shutdown has some federal employees working without pay, some furloughed, and some federal facilities and areas gated.

According to websites, national parks and monuments in the region are largely open, albeit with limited services.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open and services provided by Xanterra, the park’s concessioner, remain in operation. This includes the parking facility, Carver’s Marketplace, the park’s restaurant, and the gift shop.

The Presidential Trail and Nature Trail are closed, as is the case when they are impacted by snow, as is the Sculptor’s Studio, which is closed for the season until May.

At Wind Cave National Park, the visitor center and cave are closed, and backcountry roads NPS 5 & 6 are not being maintained, but the rest of the park is open with limited emergency and rescue services.

Jewel Cave National Monument is closed. The seasonal cave closure went into effect Oct. 18, 2018, and it will reopen in mid-April.

At Badlands National Park, the park remains open, but there are no visitor services.

Highway 240 (Loop Road) and Sage Creek Rim Road will remain open if weather conditions allow. However, rangers will close roads if weather conditions are unsafe for travel. Pinnacles Overlook, Big Badlands Overlook, Cliff Shelf, and the Notch Trail will remain open.

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is closed during the shutdown.

The D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish is gated. A sign attached to a gate informs visitors that the hatchery, part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is closed due to the lapse of federal appropriations and directed people to visit doi.gov/shutdown to receive updated information about the shutdown.

The closure of the hatchery has not affected any weddings yet at the popular wedding venue, Ruby’s Garden.

Forest Service buildings are closed. Calls to public affairs officials to see how many employees were, as expected, not returned, as it was highly likely those employees were not working as essential employees.

The 350-mile Black Hills Snowmobile Trail System remains open. Although much of it is on Forest Service land, the state Game, Fish and Parks Department maintains it through a memorandum of understanding. Warming huts and toilets remain open, said Shannon Percy, Black Hills Trails District supervisor with the GF&P.

The U.S. District Court of South Dakota remains in operation, at least through Jan. 11. Matt Thelen, clerk of courts, said the court currently is operating using court fee

balances and other funds not dependent on a new appropriation. Those funds will last through Jan 11.

“Most proceedings and deadlines will occur as scheduled,” he wrote in an email to the Pioneer. “In cases where an attorney from an Executive Branch agency is not working because of the shutdown, hearing and filing dates may be rescheduled.”

If the shutdown were to continue past three weeks and exhaust the federal

Judiciary’s resources, Thelen said the courts would then operate under the terms of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which allows work to continue during a lapse in appropriations if it is necessary to support the exercise of Article III judicial powers. Under this scenario, each court and federal defender’s office would determine the staffing resources necessary to support such work.

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