Except for those people who were planning to visit Yosemite National Park in the coming days, the general public in the Northern and Central San Joaquin Valley shouldnt be affected much by a federal shutdown, at least not right away.
The Veterans Affairs Clinic in Modesto will remain fully operational, along with all other VA hospitals and clinics, thanks to advance funding for next year.
The Veterans Health Administration, which operates VA medical centers, announced Monday that the hospital and all of our clinics will stay open, said Sheryl Grubb, a spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs Central California Health Care System, which operates the VA Hospital in Fresno, area clinics and employs about 1,100 people. Our funds are appropriated in advance, so we will still continue to serve veterans.
Similarly, Social Security benefits will keep coming, though there likely will be delays in processing new disability applications. Mail will continue to be delivered, as employees of the U.S. Postal Service are exempt from furloughs, as are active-duty military personnel.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District said Monday afternoon that its projects and recreation parks would temporarily continue or stay open for at least a few days using what remains from the prior years funding. The district manages 10 parks in California, among them Stanislaus River Parks, including the Knights Ferry Recreation Area, with its famous covered bridge, museum, camping areas and access to the Stanislaus River.
The corps is unique among federal agencies in that it is funded mostly through individual projects that carry over from year to year. Eleven Army Corps employees work in Stanislaus County, which counts 700 federal government employees among its residents.
These are important projects to improve safety for our communities and were going to keep working on them as long as we possibly can, Col. Mike Farrell, the district commander, said in a news release. Were still hopeful Congress will pass a spending bill and were doing everything we can to minimize any impacts of a funding lapse to our work and our workforce.
If a bill is not passed, 22 employees funded by the Department of the Army would be immediately furloughed, the Army Corps said. The remaining staff of about 980 will stay on the job as long as money remains. Once the money runs out, only staff essential to public safety work such as dam operations and emergency response will continue to work.
The National Park Service tweeted Monday that all 401 national parks and facilities, including Yosemite, will close in the event of a shutdown. A park service contingency plan stated that all main roads would stay open but visitors centers and other facilities would close.
About 20 percent of the parks 838 employees will be furloughed. Law enforcement, emergency medical personnel and firefighters will remain to keep the park secure, said National Park Service Regional Director Stephanie Burkhart.
On average, 450,000 visitors come to the park in October, or about 15,000 visitors per day. Many come from overseas and have planned their trips several months, if not years, in advance, Burkhart said.
Guests staying in hotels and campgrounds would be given 48 hours to leave the park.
The Wawona and Ahwahnee hotels in Yosemite, managed by DNC Parks and Resorts, will contact guests with reservations and work with those already at the hotel to rebook or to get refunds if the park is closed, said spokeswoman Lisa Cesaro.
The Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau in Oakhurst has been fielding phone calls from visitors wondering how the park closure will affect their vacation, said Jarrod Lyman, director of media.
Although access to the park will be restricted, there are back areas to explore, Lyman said.
Modesto Bee staff writer Erin Tracy contributed to this report.