There’s nothing like a crisis to bring out the best in people.
This winter’s government shutdown — the longest ever — took an immeasurable toll on the valley’s federal workers. Roughly 300 federal employees and their families went without pay for more than a month. The accompanying stress and anxiety was eased slightly by offers of aid from friends, neighbors and local businesses. From food banks to a grocery tab to electricity bill payment to cards that showed up on doorsteps, the response was heartwarming and signaled how much residents value their community.
On the facing page, local leaders of federal agencies teamed up to offer their sincere gratitude to the community that supports them and their employees.
Visitor services agents continued to serve guests at the town-owned Home Ranch, allowing the popular sleigh rides to keep going. Some communication continued between government workers and the public, and users respected the land without trashing it. Let’s give a shout-out to the nonprofits, businesses and individuals who offered their time and resources to clean toilets, pick up litter and otherwise keep things tidy.
It’s fortunate that the shutdown occurred in winter, when our local public lands receive much less visitation than during the summer. As evidenced by the irreparable damage to Joshua Tree National Park, the cost to our precious natural resources could have been heftier if a blanket of snow and freezing temperatures didn’t keep the hordes away.
What makes the shutdown saga especially sad is that it was unnecessary.
Tell your congressional representatives to back legislation to prevent government shutdowns. Without such action the clock is ticking until the next shutdown fiasco. Our government workers deserve better than to be pawns in a political chess match.
There’s one thing this lapse in funding revealed: There’s no community like Jackson Hole.