Taking Stock of the Government Shutdown

Posted by: Mike Casella on 11/6/13 3:00 AM

Tourists and wedding hopefuls weren’t the only ones
disappointed by the closure of the National Parks and other public lands during
the partial government shutdown. As barricades and closure signs adorned the normally
welcoming entrances to parks and national forests, those in the outdoor
education industry were, in some cases, left without a classroom. Several NOLS
locations had to re-route courses at the last minute, quickly adapting and
finding new locations for several courses.

Alexis_alloway_pnw_122Students hike and work on map skills on Ptarmigan Ridge near Mt Baker, Wash. Photo by Alexis Alloway

  • A Semester
    in the Northwest
    course had its hiking section moved from North Cascades
    National Park to the adjacent Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest and was able
    to run without further complications. Another Semester
    in the Northwest
    course was scheduled to run their coastal hiking section
    in Olympic National Park and instead they hiked on Nootka Island, off the west
    coast of Vancouver Island.
  • NOLS Southwest had a canoeing section scheduled
    to run through Big Bend National Park in western Texas and had to relocate
    upriver to Big Bend Ranch State Park. During the two days of logistics and
    shuffling around the students were sent to a primitive skills camp just outside
    of Tucson. The students ran the same part of the river twice, as entrance
    downriver into the National Park was off-limits. A custom course
    with NASA
    at NOLS Southwest was also postponed.
  • At NOLS Rocky Mountain, a climbing course
    scheduled for Devil’s Tower National Monument moved to Vedauwoo.
  • NOLS Teton Valley was not affected, but if the
    shutdown had taken place during the river running season, a course that runs
    through the Salmon-Challis National Forest likely would have been re-routed.

Willy_Hazlehurst_tvb_16Instructor Dennison Web (stern) and an IC student on the Owyhee River. Photo by William D. Hazlehurst.

Though public lands have re-opened, the shutdown will
continue to have rippling effects as commercial outfitters try to regain the
momentum they lost.