On Monday, the Dolores Public Lands Office and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Visitor Center and Museum have reopened.
Since Dec. 22, when the partial federal shutdown began, about 50 staff from the Bureau of Land Management, the national monument and national forest stationed at the two facilities outside Dolores have been on furlough.
The partial shutdown was triggered by a budget dispute between Congress and President Donald Trump on funding a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A deal was struck Friday to fund and reopen the government until Feb. 15 to allow time for a budget resolution.
BLM Tres Rios field manager Connie Clementson said the monument and BLM office were “busy and staff is glad to be back to work.”
Funding also has been approved for furloughed employees to receive back pay, and payroll processing is a priority, she said.
The BLM is expected to name an interim manager for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument soon, Clementson said.
Derek Padilla, Dolores District Ranger for the San Juan National Forest, said staff at the Dolores Public Lands Office are catching up on their duties.
Much of the day has been spent returning a backlog of calls from the public, and people are returning to the information desk.
“They are getting their questions answered,” he said.
Project planning is done in the winter, and there were inevitable delays because of the 35-day federal shutdown, Padilla said. Staff are assessing time lines and deadlines and making adjustments.
Most of the furloughed staff was not allowed to work during the shutdown. But some were called in under an “excepted” category for law enforcement, maintenance and other public safety duties.
Hiring for the upcoming fire season continued through the shutdown, Padilla said. While the process slowed because of the shutdown, the Dolores Ranger District anticipates having enough personnel for the fire season.
Commercial timber operations also continued through the shutdown, he added, and staff came to work to oversee the project.
The Dec. 22 shutdown did limit permitting for the fuelwood season, which ended Dec. 31, and some residents might have missed out on obtaining a Christmas tree permit.
BLM and Forest Service land remained open to the public during the shutdown.