Government Shutdown Impact Goes Beyond Utah's National Parks

Government Shutdown Impact Goes Beyond Utah's National Parks

January 9, 20192 min read

While Utah’s national parks have been in the spotlight during the current government shutdown, the parks are not the only ones feeling the impact. Nationally 800,000 people are furloughed. Over 250 employees in Iron County and more in Washington, Kane, and Garfield counties, are employed by the Federal Government, meaning that 500-1000 people in the region are currently out of work while Congress and President Trump negotiate.  

Dr. Briget Eastep, director of Southern Utah University’s Outdoor Engagement Center and creator of the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC), has a passion for both the outdoors and the people that work in the field.

“The partial government shutdown is impacting more than national parks in southern Utah. In addition to the county and state employees, SUU’s IIC has about 50 active interns who have also been laid off during the shutdown. Funds from grants awarded to SUU from public land agencies to pay the interns have been frozen.”

According to Dr. Eastep, with the news reporting the shutdown could last weeks or months, interns are concerned about paying their bills and keeping their lives normal.  

“As interns, being a student comes first, so during the semester, IIC interns can work 20 hours per week. However, during the summer and winter break, they can work up to 40 hours per week, doubling their hours as well as their experience and pay. This winter break, many had to make different plans.”

Some, like Amy Davis a Bureau of Land Management intern, had another part-time job that allowed her to work more. Others, like Cedar Breaks National Monument intern, Courtney Hunsaker, will have to be more frugal this semester to make ends meet.

“It’s inconvenient and puts you in a tough spot,” said Hunsaker. “If I knew this was going to go for two months, I’d find another job, but I like my job and want to go back to work.”  

Dr. Eastep knows that southern Utah is accustomed to national politics having serious consequences at the local level and reminds citizens to be engaged.

“It is a reminder that being civically engaged is important. What can you do?  Call or email your senators and representatives and let them know your opinions and how their decisions are impacting local lives. is an app that can link you quickly to track legislation and email or call your senators and representatives.”

Dr. Eastep’s work focuses on outdoor education, leadership, and partnerships within parks, recreation, and tourism. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.

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