BEND, OR -- Federal workers were back on the job Monday, for the first time since before Christmas. Jean Nelson Dean, with the Deschutes National Forest, says it was a relief to see the shutdown end but returning to the office comes with challenges. "Folks are very excited to get back to work. But obviously, operationally, we need to get our financial systems up and running; people need to get their computers that have a lot of passwords that have expired up and running; And so, just kind of rebooting everything that would be in place if we had been in continual operation."
Following the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, Nelson Dean says her office's top priority is to identify which forestry projects need to be done first, "We’ve missed over a month of work. You can’t just come back and meet all the goals that you had for the rest of the year. So, trying to really look at our priorities and what we can continue to accomplish. I know it seems a ways off, but we’re starting to really prep for field season and fire season." She tells KBND News some work did get done during the shutdown, "We continue to do timber sales and our vegetation management treatments that are under contract, to make sure our local contractors weren’t impacted by the furlough. And then [we] did some limited maintenance on our recreation sites, particularly the Deschutes River Trail and the sno-parks." Those were deemed "critical" projects because of how important winter recreation is to the region. She says they also continued with hiring summer temporary workers, to make sure impacts from the shutdown wouldn’t continue into wildfire season.