Richard Trott, a National Park Service park ranger, removes "Closed" signs near the Lincoln Memorial after the government reopened in Washington, Oct. 17, 2013. Congressional Republicans conceded defeat on Wednesday in their budget fight over President Obama's new health care law as the House and Senate approved last-minute legislation ending a disruptive 16-day government shutdown and averting a financial default with potentially worldwide economic repercussions.

Doug Mills, Nyt - Nyt

Federal workers, tourists flood back

  • Article by: DAVID CRARY
  • Associated Press
  • October 17, 2013 - 10:33 PM

From the Liberty Bell to Alcatraz, federal landmarks and offices reopened Thursday. Furloughed employees were relieved to get back to work — even if faced with e-mail backlogs — but many worried about another such disruption in a matter of months.

“We’d hate to have to live through this all over again,” Richard Marcus, a 29-year employee of the National Archives in Washington, said after the government shutdown finally ended.

Nationwide, from big-city office buildings to wilderness outposts, innumerable federal services and operations shifted back into gear after 16 days.

The U.S. Forest Service started lifting a logging ban on national forests. Boat trips resumed to Alcatraz, the former federal prison in San Francisco Bay, with 1,600 tickets snapped up by tourists in the first hour of business.

In Alaska, federal officials rushed to get the red king crab fishing season underway. The opening had been delayed because furloughed workers were not around to issue crab-quota permits.

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said all 401 national park units — from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California to Acadia National Park in Maine — were reopening. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees had been among the 800,000 federal workers sent home at the peak of the shutdown.

Visitors from around the world flocked to Yosemite National Park to see such famous sites as El Capitan and Half Dome after weeks of closure brought local economies to a near standstill.

“Just to be able to get back to serving the public is so important,” said Greg Bettwy, preparing to return to work with the Smithsonian’s human resources department.

Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said the complex lost about $2.8 million in revenue during the shutdown.

Federal workers who were furloughed or worked without pay during the shutdown will get back pay in their next paychecks, which for most employees come Oct. 29.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez greeted returning workers with a sympathetic e-mail. “Unfortunately, as President Obama correctly noted, you are occasionally called on to perform your remarkably important work in a climate that too often treats federal employees and contractors as a punching bag,” Perez said.

The National Institutes of Health warned university scientists not to expect a quick resumption of research dollars.

In North Little Rock, Ark, Simeon Yates was glad to return to work as an auditor for the Arkansas National Guard. “It’s definitely a relief financially,” Yates said. “It was hard to explain to the kids. They enjoyed having me home, but when we were just having hot dogs a lot and pancakes … you know, being small, they didn’t necessarily understand that.”

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