Some of the local effects of the federal government shutdown:
• With thousands of workers staying home, Joint Base Lewis-McChord appeared relatively empty Tuesday.
The base’s commissaries were an exception to the quiet atmosphere on base. They were crowded with shoppers trying to stock up on food at low prices before the military grocery stores closed starting Wednesday for the duration of the shutdown. Their parking lots were packed throughout the day.
A small number of employees at Madigan Army Medical Center protested the shutdown at noon at the Freedom Bridge in Lakewood. They belonged to the American Federation of Government Employees. A union member said workers were still gathering information and preparing responses to a potentially lengthy shutdown.
• The state Employment Security Department said it was covering the administrative costs of providing unemployment benefits, which the federal government is still funding.
Also, the agency and local WorkSource centers will operate through Monday. That will change next week if Congress doesn’t approve a spending bill.
The department has enough federal funds available to keep WorkSource centers open and to provide most of their services through June. Until Congress passes a budget, some funding sources will be unavailable and some functions of the centers will be reduced, starting Oct. 8.
Updates are available on the department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
• The national forests in the region and the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument lands remain open, but facilities are closed.
That means you can drive along the roads in Gifford Pinchot, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Olympic national forests, or climb Mount St. Helens. Just don’t expect campgrounds to be open or visitor centers such as Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens.
People with permits to climb the volcano should contact the Mount St. Helens Institute for more information. Climbers can send an email to email@example.com or check the website at mshinstitute.org for updates on climbing conditions.
People traveling on forest roads are urged to be careful in light of the recent heavy rains. Because forest employees are on furlough, no one is checking road conditions, and federal websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts are shut down. Drivers should be cautious and look carefully around corners for debris on the road or possible washouts.
• Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier National Park is closed for the season. The inn was scheduled to be open until next week, but managers at Mount Rainier Guest Services opted to close it after guests left Monday. The National Park Inn at Longmire will reopen when the shutdown is over.
• State Department of Social and Health Services offices remain open. DSHS clients receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Basic Food will continue to get benefits through the end of October. Medicare, Medicaid and child-support payments are not affected.
• U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, has extended office hours at his Tacoma and Bremerton offices. Employees will be available to constituents this week until 7 p.m. If the shutdown continues into the weekend, extended office hours will be announced.