Central Oregon

C.O. impacts linger after government reopens

Sales and projects put on hold, now playing catch-up

Federal employees back to work, with backlog

BEND, Ore. - Pat and Frank Putnam of Sunriver spend their fall enjoying the outdoors in the forest.

"We dig some trees and some shrubs," Frank said. Friday "We do it once in  awhile -- probably the third time we've done it."

To do that, you need a permit from the Forest Service -- and  for the past 2 1/2 weeks, the Putnams' hobby has been put on hold.

"The door was locked -- we came by last week," he said.

We found them waiting in a long line Friday at the Forest Service office in Bend, now that its employees are back to work.

"I think everyone was smiling yesterday to be back at work and getting back to what we like to do, and that's part of serving the public," said Jean Nelson-Dean, a spokeswoman for the Deschutes National Forest.

The shutdown delayed sales and slowed projects, including timber sales, firewood-cutting permits, a final decision on a Bend water pipeline permit that was put on hold and several prescribed burns.

"We only have so many people on, and now we have fewer people on, because a lot of the firefighters we would have kept on through October, we have to let them go, their time has run out," Nelson-Dean said. "We have a limited number of people, but we will jump on it and do as much as we possibly can."

You can expect to see smoke-filled skies starting next week as crews work to make up for lost time before the snow starts to fall.

But maybe most importantly, people are back at work and resources are back in stock.

"We have most of our vendors restocked with firewood permits, so people can go back to those vendors or come here and get them," Nelson-Dean said. "We are just really happy to be back."

For more information on permits and maps, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/centraloregon/home or call (541) 383-5300.

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