SHELBYVILLE — A possible federal government shutdown would close U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed recreation areas at Lake Shelbyville and the visitors center that overlooks the lake.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Soil and Water Conservation District offices in Coles County and other counties also would be closed by a shutdown.
"The longer the shutdown goes on, the farther behind we would get on the work we plan to get the parks open (for the next recreation season)," said Jon Summers, operations manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Shelbyville.
Summers said said Bo Wood Campground and portions of the General Dacey Trail are among the Corps-managed areas that would be closed immediately by a shutdown.
Summers said portions of the General Dacey Trail are not in corps-managed areas would remain open for use, so the annual Candlelight Walk that is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight can continue as scheduled. He said the shutdown also would not affect Wolf Creek State Park and other areas that are leased to the state or marinas that are leased for private use.
The shutdown would close corps offices and drop staff from 25 to four, Summers said. If this happened, Summers said the corps would focus its remaining available staff on operating the dam and providing security for the closed recreation areas. Summers said January is a time of year when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing for the next recreation season.
Still, Summers said the parks should be able to open on time even if there is a shutdown, like one that occurred in 2013.
Summers noted that he had not received any directives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about a possible shutdown as of late Friday morning.
Bret Bierman, county executive director for the Farm Service Agency in Coles County, said his office received an email Friday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the possible shutdown. If this occurs, Bierman said the Farm Service Agency and its fellow USDA divisions would need to close their offices.
Bierman said the Farm Service Agency would not be available to help farmers utilize the agency's programs, such as signing contracts for the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Program that helps farmers if their crops fail or grain prices plunge.
January is a time of year when the Farm Service Agency staff members work on getting farmers signed up for programs before they are busy planting in the spring, Bierman said.
An extended shutdown would add to the agency's backlog of work and delay farmers' access to programs, such as loan assistance for getting their crops out in the spring.
"It would put more pressure on us to get the work done in a shorter amount of time," Bierman said.