Shutdown’s Effect on Roaring Fork Social Services Unclear

Oct 3, 2013

Some of the effects of lawmakers’ continuing impasse on the federal budget are easy to see in the Roaring Fork Valley. The government shutdown has affected federal offices that handle outdoor recreation and other agencies. And as Elise Thatcher reports, it's not clear what effect it could have on social services.

Reporter: The government shutdown is visible along Highway 82. Traffic signs flash warnings to drivers, saying the road to the Maroon Bells is closed to cars and busses.. And if you poke around, there are other indications, too.

Automated phone system voice: “Thank you for calling Social Security. Para espanol, marque siete.”

Reporter: It seems the shutdown is the biggest story no one wants to talk about... Or can't talk about. That's true of the Social Security Administration. Aspen Public Radio called the agency's 1-800 number because the office in Glenwood Springs was closed. In a confusing twist, doors were locked because of previous budget cuts... not the shutdown.  A woman there… described as the manager... was kind enough to come out and talk. But she had a quick answer when asked about what services are affected by the shutdown… same answer as what was on the agency’s phone system.

Automated phone system voice: “During the government shutdown, local social security offices except card centers are open for a limited number of services. You can access many of our services online, www.socialsecurity.gov, as well as view the list of limited services available in our field offices.”

Reporter:  According to that website, social security payments are still going out… but no luck if you need a new or replacement social security card.

Sound: car passes by in a quiet neighborhood.

Reporter: Farther up the valley, there’s a Head Start kids program in Carbondale. The federal shutdown has closed doors for several of those programs nationwide. But Teachers with for the Roaring Fork Valley location say they have been told they won't be affected by the lack of federal budget -- at least not yet. They too declined to be interviewed. What we do know is at least some of the effect on land management agencies. Forest Service facilities are shuttered, and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds and offices are closed. At the Bureau of Land Management office in Silt, just two employees are working… a law enforcement ranger and an oil and gas inspection and enforcement technician. All sixty of the other employees at the Colorado River Valley Field Office are furloughed… including this guy.

Voicemail message: “Hi, this is David Boyd with the Bureau of Land Management. I am currently unavailable because of the government shutdown."

Reporter: Boyd is the public affairs officer whom Aspen Public Radio and other news outlets call when there’s a story about the BLM. So… if something major happens on BLM land, Boyd says… call the state BLM office. There is some good news, in all of this. BLM lands, including trails, remain open to the public.