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October 17, 2013 10:00 am

National parks, monument back in business

Written by Gib Mathers

Both national parks and the national monument in Wyoming opened Thursday morning.

Congress passed a bill to end the 16-day government shutdown Wednesday night, and President Barack Obama signed the bill shortly thereafter. That gave national parks, monuments and memorials permission to reopen.

All of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park opened to visitors at 7 a.m., according to a Yellowstone news release.

All roads in the park are open with the exception of the section linking Tower Junction and Canyon over Dunraven Pass, that was closed for the season.

Outside the park’s Northeast Entrance, U.S. 212 remains open through Silver Gate and Cooke City, Mont., east to the junction with Wyo. 296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. U.S. 212 over Beartooth Pass was closed for the season.

Grand Teton National Park is reopening today.

“We are in the process of taking down the road barricades, in fact they are now all removed, said Jackie Skaggs, public information officer for Grand Teton. “Staff are being called back to work today, and we will have the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center reopened for visitors at noon today (Thursday).”

Teton will have about two weeks of usual fall services and operations before we closing the Teton Park Road and Moose Wilson Road for the winter on Nov. 1 at the usual date, Skaggs said.

Christy Fleming, chief interpretive ranger for Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, said it was also back in business.

“We’re getting ramped back up,” Fleming said.

The gate to Bighorn Recreation Area is open and so is the visitor’s center outside Lovell. The only restroom open aside from pit toilets is the restroom at Horseshoe Bend. Most services are closed for the winter, but folks can visit the park anytime, she said.

“We are open year-round,” Fleming said.

Devils Tower, the first national monument, was opening as well, according to Administrative Officer Sue Skrove.

The Visitor Center was open, but the main road was partially blocked thanks to the massive blizzard that hit the area last week, Skrove said. Trails are also closed but may reopen soon.

“We’re still dealing with the storm damage from the blizzard last week,” she said.

Wyoming employees receiving pay from the federal government are back to work too.

A total of 239 state employees were on a partial or full furlough, according to a news release from Gov. Matt Mead’s office.

“The impacted agencies were the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Workforce Services, Military Department and Department of Family Services. The furloughs affected employees with positions that are funded in whole or in part with federal funds that ceased to be available as a result of the federal shutdown,” the release stated.

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