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Furloughed Grand Canyon Employees Face Uncertainty as Shutdown Grinds On

Ryan Heinsius

For the second week in a row, Grand Canyon officials held a meeting with employees and others affected by the government shutdown. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the group discussed a variety of topics as the impasse in Washington D.C. nears a month.

Grand Canyon Chief Ranger Matt Vandzura met with a couple dozen furloughed employees in Flagstaff Wednesday. He and others updated them on how the shutdown is affecting park operations and budgets, along with the availability of food pantries and other social services for federal workers.

It was also a chance for those impacted by the shutdown to share their frustrations as they prepare for potentially missing a second paycheck.

"I think there is that overwhelming concern of people’s own personal finances. We do have a lot of lower-graded employees and not getting a regular paycheck is very harmful to them. What’s that moral impact going to be on employees? I think that’s going to be one of the biggest long-term impacts that we’re going to see," says the park’s chief of administration Tom Shehan.

Shehan also says the shutdown has delayed the approval of funding for major projects at the Grand Canyon over the next five years. He and other employees worry that the federal shutdown will create weeks or even months of backlog, and lead to some projects being put on hold indefinitely.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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