Government shutdown affects fire conference in Virginia

The government shutdown reduced by half the number of people attending a fire conference in Virginia.

When the Wildland Fire in the Appalachians conference was scheduled a year ago the planners probably failed to consider that we would not have a functioning federal government October 10-12. The Roanoke, Virginia conference depended on some federal employees to assist with the planning, to serve as presenters, and to help fill a minimum number of hotel rooms required in the contract with the facility. When our dysfunctional Congress didn’t do their most important job, funding the government, about 100 furloughed employees from the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies who had registered not only were prohibited from attending, but they were locked out of their offices and their computers that contained some information needed for the three day event.

In spite of the attendance being reduced from the expected 200 down to 100, the Association for Fire Ecology and the Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists persevered, adapted, made changes, and still conducted the meeting. But with the reduced income from the registration fees and the unfilled hotel rooms, the organizations will have to struggle to keep from losing money on the conference. Most hotel contracts require that a certain number of sleeping rooms be filled in order to avoid paying large fees for the meeting rooms.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.