Federal employees of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes Oak Ridge, are back at work after the partial government shutdown ended Friday.
The shutdown started Saturday, December 22, and it lasted 35 days. It was the longest government shutdown ever.
During the shutdown, there were no National Park Service staff members or volunteers working at the Park Service desk at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge. The National Park Service did not monitor or update social media and websites during the shutdown, and it did not provide visitor services at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, including public information. Also, all park programs were canceled.
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park said its staff resumed regular operations on Sunday after Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution that re-opened the government for three weeks.
“Manhattan Project National Historical Park’s employees and volunteers are happy to be back at work, serving the American people and welcoming visitors to their national parks,” the National Park Service said in a press release.
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park was stablished about three years ago, in November 2015. It commemorates the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II. Besides Oak Ridge, the park includes Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
In the press release, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park thanked its partner agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, for continuing operations and providing visitor services at all three of the park’s locations during the lapse in appropriations. This included the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, the Hanford Visitor Center in Richland, and the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos. DOE was not affected by the partial government shutdown, but the U.S. Department of Interior, which includes the National Park Service, was.
“In addition, thank you to our partners at the Los Alamos History Museum and the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge for also serving park visitors during this time,” the National Park Service said in its press release.
In December, the National Park Service had said national parks would remain as accessible as possible during the partial government shutdown while following all applicable laws and procedures.
The shutdown of nine cabinet-level federal departments and other agencies had hinged on a dispute between President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress over whether to allocate $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the border with Mexico.
It’s not clear what will happen or if another shutdown is possible if Congress and the president don’t reach a deal by February 15, when the temporary spending measure that was approved Friday expires.
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park was formally established in November 2015 through a memorandum of agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Park Service to preserve parts of three World War II sites where the United States developed the first atomic weapons. The park marks the history of the people, science, events, and controversy associated with the creation of the atomic bomb in the top-secret effort known as the Manhattan Project. Under the agreement, the NPS and DOE jointly manage and administer the park.
Please visit www.nps.gov/mapr for updated information about the park.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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