Dispatches From State LCVs: How the Trump Shutdown Is Impacting Communities Across The Country

As the Trump shutdown enters the end of its third week, federal workers and communities across the country are suffering for the sake of the president’s grandstanding. The Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, agencies that are essential for the protection of our air, water, and lands, are some of the hardest hit by this partial shutdown. We reached out to some of our state partners in the Conservation Voter Movement to get their take on how the shutdown is hitting home.

To speak with one of LCV’s 30 state affiliates about how the Trump shutdown is impacting their state, contact holly_burke@lcv.org

ALASKA:

“With our perilous winter fisheries in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska underway, it is unfortunate that the government shutdown withholds pay to the government agencies that protect mariners in times of need and ensure that our fisheries remain strong — the United States Coast Guard and the National Maritime Fisheries Service. These winter fisheries mean millions of dollars for our fishermen and coastal communities. A strong Coast Guard presence and a fully staffed fisheries service are imperative to safe and healthy fisheries. A protracted shutdown will cost the agencies in morale, resources, and staff, which in turn, puts our fishermen and our livelihoods at risk.”

– Louie Flora, Government Affairs Director at The Alaska Center, and commercial fisherman

ARIZONA:

“Arizonans are being held hostage by the empty rhetoric calling for an ineffective border wall. We are home to 22 federally recognized tribes, 18 national parks and monuments, and six national forests. On tribal lands we’ve seen a halt in health and public services that endangers families. Scaled back roadway maintenance following severe storms isolate native communities and damage infrastructure. We are seeing a delay in forest health measures, as well as destruction and closures of public lands throughout Arizona. There are an estimated 55,600 federal government employees in our state, of which an approximate 4,000 work for Department of Interior. Food support and family benefits for low-income Arizonans remain uncertain. This shutdown amounts to no more than political theater with real-life devastating impact across the state — our people and our environment deserve better.”

– Laura Dent, Executive Director Chispa Arizona

CALIFORNIA:

“The impacts of Trump’s government shutdown are being deeply felt across California’s public lands. Residents near Yosemite are reporting overflowing trash cans and sanitary issues at restrooms as there are too few employees to maintain upkeep. The situations at Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Parks have gotten so bad that they’ve been forced to close. And parks employees and their families are being forced to go without pay over the holidays and into the New Year. Decades of harm have already been caused to our natural spaces, ecosystems, and habitat.”

– Mary Creasman, CEO California League of Conservation Voters

FLORIDA:

“In Florida, our environment is our economy. The federal shutdown means that there is little to no staff patrolling, monitoring, or even cleaning our most precious natural parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and other federally-owned lands. Florida’s reputation as a world-class ecotourism destination suffers every day this shutdown continues. Wildlife viewing alone is over a $1.2 billion industry, providing over 51,000 jobs — that’s nearly as much as Disney World. Imagine if there was no trash pickup at the Magic Kingdom? Imagine if guests couldn’t check into their hotels because there was no staff working the front desk? That’s what’s happening in campgrounds across our state, and it’s happening at the peak of our tourist season when the weather is perfect. Not only are our parks suffering, but also our beaches and waterways, which have been plagued with water quality problems for years. The dangerous bacteria known as red tide ravaged our coastline throughout 2018, leading to countless dead fish, birds, and marine mammals like dolphins and manatees. Federal research into our ongoing red tide problem has now stopped because of this shutdown, despite this dangerous bacteria showing up off our Gulf Coast in the past week. Make no mistake, the shutdown is a disaster for Florida’s environment.”

-Jonathan Webber, Deputy Director Florida Conservation Voters

IDAHO:

“In Idaho, a state comprised of 63 percent federally managed land and the most acres of wilderness in the lower 48, agencies are cautioning of dangerous winter travel conditions in the backcountry. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has warned that ‘some areas are accessible, however, access may change without notice, and there may be no BLM-provided services.’ Without rangers on patrol, changing conditions such as fallen trees and rocks or washed-out bridges could leave travelers stuck in very remote country without common resources for rescue. The BLM oversees Craters of the Moon, Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and hundreds of acres of wilderness areas and miles of trails. Similarly, the Forest Service which manages the state’s largest wilderness areas such as the Frank Church River of No Return is also shuttered, removing support for backcountry travelers.”

-Conservation Voters for Idaho

ILLINOIS:

“As Springfield, Illinois celebrates the inauguration of a new pro-environment governor and General Assembly, the federal shutdown means that visitors to the city won’t be able to celebrate by visiting the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, a top local attraction run by the U.S. National Park Service. While the national park site in Trump’s hotel is staying open, Illinois will be deprived of important tourism dollars that support the local community because of the closure of this important site. Government should be working to protect and invest in our historic and conservation spaces.”  

– Jennifer Walling, Executive Director Illinois Environmental Council

MICHIGAN:

“Right now, 1.9 million Michiganders can’t trust their tap water due to widespread toxic PFAS contamination across the state. For nearly a year, residents have called on the EPA to visit Michigan and enact an enforceable drinking water standard to protect families from this dangerous ‘forever’ chemical. At long last, the EPA finally scheduled a forum where the public can make their voices heard, but this much-needed and much-anticipated meeting may be canceled due to the government shutdown. The longer the federal government remains shuttered, the longer Michigan residents will go without action to ensure safe, affordable drinking water. Adding insult to injury is the fact that former Governor Snyder signed a dangerous bill in the final hours of his tenure making it difficult for the state of Michigan to protect its own residents from PFAS and putting the onus on the EPA to promulgate an enforceable drinking water standard to protect public health. The government shutdown is a real threat to public health and safety in Michigan.”

– Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director Michigan League of Conservation Voters

NEVADA:

“As the shutdown drags on so do the impacts on visitors to our public lands and parks. Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead, and Death Valley aren’t just paradises that help bring visitors to our region from around the world — they are also helping spur local economic activity that creates jobs in our communities. Currently, visitors are being greeted by signs warning them about visitation, toilets without toilet paper, and many amenities simply closed. And the parks themselves are suffering from piling garbage and mistreatment. It’s time we put open signs back up at these incredible places and get the members of the Park Service and BLM back to work caring for them.”

– Andy Maggi, Executive Director Nevada Conservation League

NORTH CAROLINA:

“As testing for potentially toxic GenX chemicals in the Lower Cape Fear River has been put on hold, citizens in North Carolina are paying a price while Trump and Republicans in Congress play politics. Critical samples of drinking water sit on shelves waiting to be tested for chemicals linked to cancer while the shutdown wages on. The people of North Carolina deserve better.”

-Dan Crawford, Director of Governmental Relations North Carolina League of Conservation Voters

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