French foie gras makers fed up by toughened California ban

MONTAUT, France (Reuters) – French producers of foie gras, the rich liver delicacy made from force-feeding grain to ducks or geese, have denounced a ban on the product in California, saying they make the creamy paté humanely, following all the rules.

California has formally blocked the sale and production of foie gras (literally “fat liver”) since 2012. That ban has now been reinforced after the U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear an appeal brought by farmers and chefs. Violators will be fined up to $1,000 if caught selling the product.

In France, which makes around 70 percent of the world’s foie gras, farmers and high-end producers see a double-standard, arguing that they treat the animals well, with no harm done to them during the fattening process.

“Everyone can think what they like, but I know I’m proud of what I do,” said Julien, a farmer in Montaut, in the southwest of France, one of the main producing regions. He did not give his last name for fear of reprisal from rights’ activists.

“I really look after them because, like I said, that’s how I make a living. If I don’t look after them I don’t have any money at the end of the month, I can’t pay my bills — so there’s nothing to be gained for me in mistreating the animals.”

In California, animal-rights campaigners have picketed high-end restaurants that serve foie gras, denouncing the manufacturing process as an unnecessary cruelty to animals.

The U.S. Animal Legal Defense Fund said the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal by the foie gras industry represented a “death knell” for the product in California and would spare thousands of ducks from “terrible suffering”.

The force-feeding, known as “gavage”, involves inserting a metal tube into the animals’ throats, allowing them to consume far more grain than they would naturally eat and fattening their livers by up to 10 times the normal size.

Some decorated chefs, including France’s Albert Roux, are opposed to foie gras, no longer serving it in their restaurants, while many supermarket chains also will not stock it.

FILE PHOTO: Ducks are being fed by a farmer for foie gras (duck liver) at a poultry farm in Montaut, France January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Fabien Chevalier, the managing director of France’s Lafitte Foie Gras, said California was wrong to ban a product he said conformed to global hygiene regulations and was freely traded.

“If we can’t sell it in the U.S. we will go elsewhere,” he told Reuters. “Today, Asian customers love our product. If we take the example of Japan, it’s a developed economy, Japan is the second biggest consumer of foie gras in the world.”

In France, foie gras has been recognized as part of the nation’s “cultural and gastronomic heritage” since 2006. But several European countries ban its production, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Britain, and there are similar bans in Australia and Argentina.

Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Alison Williams

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    Verizon’s new plan: Consumers win, investors lose

    Inside Verizon's device testing lab

    Verizon has brought back its unlimited data plan. That’s great if you’re a Verizon customer. But it is terrible news for its investors.

    Verizon (VZ) stock fell nearly 1.5% in early trading Monday. It’s now down about 10% so far this year, making it the Dow’s worst performer of 2017.

    Verizon’s move is a clear sign the company has to pull out all the stops to remain competitive with wireless rivals AT&T (T), Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS).

    “In recent months, both T-Mobile and Sprint had some success taking additional share from Verizon by virtue of their unlimited offerings,” wrote Morgan Stanley analysts in a report Monday morning.

    That may explain why shares of T-Mobile and Sprint, which is now controlled by Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank, are both up this year while Verizon is down. T-Mobile and Sprint have also been perennially linked as possible merger partners.

    But the new telecom price war isn’t the only problem for Verizon.

    AT&T recently acquired satellite broadcast provider DirecTV, a move that makes Ma Bell more competitive against Verizon in the battle to control people’s living rooms. Verizon offers its own FiOS broadband TV service.

    Related: Verizon brings back unlimited data plans

    And AT&T is also making a much bigger bet on content, with plans to purchase CNN’s parent company Time Warner (TWX). Verizon already owns AOL and is looking to buy the core assets of Yahoo to bolster its own digital content offerings.

    But the Yahoo (YHOO) deal could fall apart in the wake of revelations of massive data breaches at Yahoo over the past few years.

    Yahoo recently said it hopes that the deal with Verizon will close in the second quarter of this year. It was originally supposed to be finalized by the first quarter.

    However, in its latest earnings release, Verizon simply said that it “continues to work with Yahoo to assess the impact of data breaches” — not that it expected the deal to close anytime soon.

    Verizon has a lot on its plate, which could be making investors nervous. In addition to the Yahoo deal, the company is also in the process of buying the fiber optic network of XO Communications. And it’s selling its data center business to Equinix (EQIX).

    There also have been rumors in the past few weeks that Verizon might even consider buying cable provider Charter Communications (CHTR).

    That may be more than Verizon can realistically handle right now. But nothing may be off the table for Verizon given how competitive the wireless world is these days.

    Anything that could give Verizon a leg up on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile might be possible.

    Related: Charter shares popped on report of possible Verizon takeover

    Still, it’s worth noting that shares of AT&T are lower this year too, down about 5%. And Verizon and A&T have something in common that Sprint and T-Mobile lack — Verizon and AT&T pay gigantic dividends.

    Companies that have big dividend yields haven’t fared as well since Donald Trump was elected. Investors are betting on a sizable stimulus package from him and the Republican Congress, which may be fueled in part by debt.

    That’s caused bond yields to rise — and that makes shares of big dividend payers like Verizon a lot less attractive.

    The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates a few times this year too. That could push bond yields even higher.

    So Verizon faces many big challenges that could hurt its stock this year.

    That’s why Verizon, nicknamed Big Red because of its logo’s crimson hue, may see its stock in the red for the foreseeable future.

    CNNMoney (New York) First published February 13, 2017: 11:27 AM ET

    Banksy ‘snow’ pollution mural sold for over $130,000

    LONDON (Reuters) – A mural by elusive British street artist Banksy depicting a child enjoying falling snow that is in fact pollution from a burning bin has been sold for over 100,000 pounds ($130,000) to a British art dealer.

    FILE PHOTO: People view new work by the artist Banksy that appeared during the week on the walls of a garage in Port Talbot, Britain December 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden/File Photo

    From one side, the “Season’s Greetings” mural on a concrete block garage in Wales shows a small boy with his tongue out to catch snow that, when viewed from another side, turns out to be ash from an industrial bin.

    “I bought it and it cost me a six-figure sum,” John Brandler of Brandler Galleries, told Reuters by telephone.

    “I am lending it to Port Talbot for a minimum of two or three years. I want to use it as a center for an art hub that would bring in internationally famous artists to Port Talbot.”

    The mural appeared last month in the town on the edge of Swansea Bay, home to one of the biggest steelworks in the world.

    Brandler, 63, said the entire mural – on the corner of a garage – had to be moved in one piece. He declined to give a specific price for the piece.

    When asked how he could afford such luxuries, he said: “I am an art dealer. I own several Banksies, I also own (John) Constable, (Thomas) Gainsborough, (Joseph Mallord William) Turner, I’ve got (urban artist) Pure Evil – I’ve got all sorts of art.”

    “My hobby is my business. The last time I went to work was when I was 18,” Brandler said.

    Banksy, who keeps his real name private, has become the most famous street artist in the world by poking fun at the excesses of modern capitalism and lampooning hollow icons, slogans and opinions.

    Previous works include “Mobile Lovers” which shows an embrace between lovers who stare over each other’s shoulders at their mobile phones and an abrupt warning near Canary Wharf in London that reads “Sorry! The lifestyle you ordered is currently out of stock.”

    Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Hugh Lawson

    Colorado deals with effects of record-long impasse

    Since the partial government shutdown began on Saturday, Dec. 22, Coloradans across the state have felt its impact.

    From Rocky Mountain National Park to the state’s many brewers, the record-long impasse affected business owners, government workers and services across the state. Here’s a roundup of The Denver Post’s reports documenting what the shutdown has meant to Colorado:

    Colorado tourism

    + Rocky Mountain National Park braces for possible government shutdown ahead of holiday weekend: Employees anxiously awaited word from Washington, D.C., as they prepared for the possibility of closing down services throughout the park during the shutdown. (Dec. 20, 2018)

    + Garbage, human waste collect in Rocky Mountain National Park as government shutdown continues: Trash collection and waste disposal become a problem in the park with no government staff to clean up. (Jan. 2, 2019)

    Reported “sick-out” by TSA security screeners not impacting DIA, airport officials say: Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers working without pay because of the partial government shutdown called “out” from work in several airports around the country. But the no-show numbers didn’t materialized at Denver International Airport, an official said. (Jan. 4, 2019)

    + Volunteer group cleaning Rocky Mountain National Park visitor centers Sunday finds no litter, “immaculate” bathrooms despite shutdown: Despite reports of rampant vandalism and littering in national parks during the partial federal shutdown, volunteers who hoped to help clean up Rocky Mountain National Park on Jan. 11 found little work to be done. (Jan. 13, 2019)

    + Rocky Mountain National Park restores some services, improves access as government shutdown continues: Rocky Mountain National Park restored some access, services and operations that had been curtailed by the partial federal government shutdown. (Jan. 14, 2019)

    + Shutdown could cut flights out of Denver International Airport, air traffic controllers say: Coloradans could be waiting in longer lines for fewer flights in and out of Denver International Airport if the federal shutdown drags on. (Jan. 14, 2019)

    Colorado economy

    Estes Park hasn’t felt pains from the government shutdown — yet: One week into the shutdown, the gateway community to Rocky Mountain National Park felt minimal impacts on commerce. (Dec. 28, 2018)

    + Longest shutdown in history takes a toll in Colorado, could cost state up to $201M per month: With farmers unable to get federal loans and tens of thousands of families facing the prospect of food aid running out, the possibility of real monetary damage from the partial government shutdown lingers in Colorado. (Jan. 14, 2019)

    + Colorado’s craft beer industry sees delays, complications as shutdown keeps alcohol bureau closed: Delayed releases for new beers, an inability to expand into a new location, even a batch of pale ale that could go bad and cost the brewer thousands of dollars — these are some of the impacts the partial government shutdown is having on Colorado craft brewers. (Jan. 16, 2019)

    + Colorado businesses, cities feel ripple effects of longest government shutdown in U.S. history: The ripple effects from the longest government shutdown in U.S. history grow stronger in Colorado, buffeting business owners dependent on tourism, communities counting on federal funds, furloughed federal workers and people drilling on and keeping tabs on public lands. (Jan. 19, 2019)

    Colorado’s lawmakers

    + Sen. Cory Gardner breaks ranks with Senate Republicans, calls for end to government shutdown: Colorado’s Republican U.S. senator said he would vote yes on a package of bills to reopen the federal government and thinks his Republican colleagues should do the same. (Jan. 3, 2019)

    + These Coloradans in Congress are giving up their paychecks during shutdown: Several members of Colorado’s congressional delegation put their money — meaning their paychecks — where their mouths are. (Jan. 10, 2019)

    Colorado’s safety net

    + Shutdown puts funding at risk for Colorado domestic violence and sexual assault organizations:  As the shutdown of the federal government neared the end of its second week, Coloradans who use Violence Against Women Act funds worry about what they will do if the shutdown continues past the current deadline set for funding. (Jan. 5, 2019)

    + Amid shutdown, Denver offers $5K in mortgage payments to federal workers and others: Starting Jan. 16, homeowners enduring furloughs and other work changes can apply for a city grant to pay their mortgages. (Jan. 14, 2019)

    + Federal shutdown accounts for 20 percent of unemployment claims in Colorado: Federal employees in Colorado are filing for unemployment benefits by the hundreds — accounting for about 20 percent of unemployment claims filed statewide since the partial U.S. government shutdown began. (Jan. 14, 2019)

    + Colorado Gov. Jared Polis permits jobless benefits for federal employees working without pay: Federal workers in Colorado who are required to work without pay through the shutdown could apply for unemployment starting Jan. 18. (Jan. 18, 2019)

    Colorado’s federal workers

    + Furloughed federal employees in Colorado bemoan uncertainty of government shutdown: For Chris Fowler, a project manager with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Denver, the work stoppage means another period of unwelcome uncertainty for him and his colleagues. (Dec. 27, 2018)

    + Federal workers rally in Denver seeking an end to the shutdown: A boisterous group of approximately 200 federal workers and their supporters took to the streets of downtown Denver on Jan. 10 to call for an end to the stalemate in Washington, D.C. (Jan. 10, 2019)

    Coloradans offer support

    + Denver Museum of Nature & Science offers free entry to furloughed federal workers: The museum announced Jan. 4 that it would offer free admission to local federal employees who are out of work amid the political impasse in Washington, D.C. (Jan. 5, 2019)

    + Food Bank of the Rockies adds emergency help to federal employees affected by shutdown: The Food Bank of the Rockies offered assistance to federal employees who may be struggling to make ends meet during the government shutdown. (Jan. 9, 2019)

    + Denver businesses, charities stepping up to support furloughed federal workers: With more than 15,000 of their federally employed neighbors out of work amid a government shutdown that does not appear close to ending, private businesses and charities in the Denver area step up to help out. (Jan. 11, 2018)


    Shutdown leaves gaps in federal services, but Santa will still be tracked: Because the military’s budget was approved, the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs was able to track Santa on Christmas Eve. (Dec. 22, 2018)

    From the opinion pages

    Editorial: This shutdown is driven by Trump’s lies, delusion and erratic demands: Donald Trump’s attempts to blame Democrats for this shutdown are laughable and dishonest to the point of pathology, The Denver Post Editorial Board wrote. (Dec. 28, 2018)

    Investors punish poorly performing hedge funds by pulling billions

    FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

    BOSTON (Reuters) – Hedge funds suffered their worst quarterly outflows in two years when investors pulled $23 billion from the industry during the last three months of 2018, new data released on Friday show.

    In total, investors asked for $34 billion back last year, but the bulk of the money was pulled out in the fourth quarter when investors lost patience with poor returns and a number of firms decided to shut down after lackluster performance.

    Fourth quarter redemptions marked the largest quarterly outflows since the third quarter of 2016 when investors pulled $28.2 billion, Hedge Fund Research data showed.

    The outflows shrunk the size of the hedge fund industry to $3.1 trillion from a record $3.24 trillion at the end of the third quarter.

    A number of prominent firms shut last year, including Boston-based Highfields Capital and Three Bays Capital, which was founded by a former Highfields executive. In New York, Tourbillon Capital announced plans to shut down, and San Francisco-based Criterion Capital Management said it was closing.

    Investors pulled the most money out of stock picking funds, asking for $16.8 billion back in the last three months. So-called equity hedge funds also posted the worst performance, losing roughly 7 percent last year.

    David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital, for example, lost 34 percent, marking his worst-ever year, and Larry Robbins’ Glenview Capital Management lost 16.2 percent.

    Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Jonathan Oatis

    Shutdown sojourn: Free museums, music for furloughed U.S. workers

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – It may not put a meal on the table for furloughed federal employees, but some U.S. museums and symphonies are supplying food for the mind in free admission for workers affected by the longest partial federal government shutdown in U.S. history.

    FILE PHOTO: Tourists walk towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller/File Photo

    With the shutdown in its fourth week with no end in sight, cultural institutions from Massachusetts to Oregon are moving to help unpaid federal workers spend some of their otherwise idle hours with loved ones enjoying art, science history or music.

    Museums in at least 27 states, along with at least 19 orchestras, offered free admission to federal workers who have unpaid time on their hands. Institutions range from The Metropolitan Opera in New York to the San Diego Air & Space Museum, home of the Apollo IX Command Module, which helped pave the way for man to walk on the Moon.

    Nearly 200 furloughed employees have taken advantage of an offer from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which waived its admission fee for each furloughed worker plus one guest, said museum spokesman Norman Keyes. Fine art highlights at the museum, whose front steps were made famous in the “Rocky” movie series, include Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and an array of Rubens and Renoirs.

    “Museums can offer a place both to get away from the fray and to recharge, and to gain perspective,” Keyes said. “It will not solve the shutdown crisis, but it can help build positive experiences during a difficult time.”

    Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry has also waived admission fees for each furloughed worker plus two guests for the duration of the shutdown. Star attractions include a German U-Boat submarine seized in 1944, the only one captured during World War II. It is the length of a city block, the museum boasts on its website.

    Symphonies from Boston to Akron, Ohio, offered no-cost concert tickets to ease the stress of wondering when your next paycheck will be issued.

    “Great music has the power to inspire, reduce stress and ease burdens,” said Joseph Giunta, who conducts the Des Moines Symphony.

    “We invite federal employees to join us as our guests for an upcoming Masterworks concert,” said Giunta, noting each worker was offered two tickets which otherwise sell for $20 apiece or more.

    Much of the federal workforce lives in or around Washington, D.C., but these people may be out of luck. That is because premiere cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian’s museums, galleries and zoo, which are always free to the public, remain closed to all for the remainder of the shutdown.

    Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and David Gregorio

    8 Tips To Improve Your Relationship, Courtesy Of International Relations

    A big part of the science of international relations is the study of the causes of war. But it’s also about how nations can cooperate — like signing treaties, providing aid and generally promising not to kill each others’ citizens. It considers humans on the grandest, most violent scale — asking how we can overcome what might be a fundamentally selfish, fearful human nature to not just coexist but do better than we could alone.

    But over 15 years of studying, researching and teaching international relations, I’ve learned that it’s also a deeply personal science, involving commitment, communication and trust. Those things can help reduce conflict and increase cooperation between nations … and people (in my experience, at least). So, seeing how it’s Valentine’s Day, I bring you eight pieces of relationship advice courtesy of international relations.


    1. Say what you mean, and prove it

    We’ve all heard the adage that you should pay attention to what someone does, not what they say. International relations scholars agree. Countries that send “costly signals” — taking an action that incurs some cost, such as moving troops away from a border or disabling a nuclear program — are better able to communicate their intentions in a convincing way to other countries.

    You can see some of that idea at work on Valentine’s Day: Buying roses makes that “I love you” more credible, said James Morrow, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan and co-author of “The Logic of Political Survival.” “An engagement ring is also a costly signal,” he added.

    You can apply this idea to other areas of your relationship too. If you want your partner to believe that you’ll finally make time for a vacation, for example, book the tickets.

    2. Have an audience

    Proposing at a baseball game may seem cheesy and cliché, but there may be something to it. Leaders who generate “audience costs” — that is, they make public promises — tend to keep those promises more often than leaders who keep their intentions to themselves or confined to a small circle. The idea here is simple: accountability. The trick is you need an audience whose opinions matter to you. That’s, in part, why democratic leaders are often better at keeping promises than authoritarian ones — the former are more accountable to their public.

    Likewise, you might consider proposing in front of your parents or a group of friends rather than a bunch of drunk strangers watching a ball game.

    3. Reciprocity is king

    Many scholars considered sustaining international cooperation without a central world government nearly impossible until they discovered the power of the simple rule of “tit-for-tat”: If another country does something nice for you, do something nice in return. They will then return the favor, then you will, and so on — until you’re both living happily ever after.

    So, if your partner takes out the trash this week, do it the following week, and you’ll never have to discuss it again. Domestic bliss is yours! “You can also think about tit-for-tat as implicit punishment,” said James Fearon, a professor of political science at Stanford University, “If you don’t take out the trash, I’ll stop walking the dog….”

    4. But so is forgiveness

    OK, your partner didn’t take out the trash last week. You’re entitled to not take it out this week. But then, forgive and start over. Research shows that punishing someone repeatedly for one wrongdoing — similar to a strategy called “grim trigger” — is less effective at sustaining long-term cooperation than just punishing a nation once and moving on.

    5. No disagreement is an island

    Your partner wants to use your first vacation in forever to go to the beach. But you want to go to the mountains. Stalemate! Well, maybe not. There are lots of creative ways to solve an impasse like this, including “issue linkage” — for example, where a person’s advantage in one domain can be countered by providing a benefit to the other person in a different domain, making what would be an otherwise lousy outcome much better. Let’s say Country A wants Country B to remove steel tariffs. Country B could agree, but only on the condition that Country A curbs its greenhouse gas emissions. So, go ahead and give in on the beach — but then you’re entitled to not do the dishes for a week.

    6. Careful, conflict is easily escalated

    One of the most enduring puzzles about war is that it breaks out even though both parties would be better off coming to a peaceful, negotiated settlement. The same thing can happen in relationships, where after a huge fight you wonder what it was you were fighting about in the first place.

    One reason escalation is so easy in both scenarios is that there’s a temptation for each side to bluff about how far they’re willing to go to get the other side to back down. This is because each side has an incentive to act like they care more about getting their preferred outcome than the other side so that when the time comes to draw up an agreement, they get the better deal. The problem is, when both sides (rationally) pretend to care more than they do, they may find themselves in a position where they’ve escalated and can’t back down (thanks to the aforementioned audience costs, for example). In technical terms, this means they’ve shrunk the bargaining range. Trump shouldn’t threaten North Korea with a nuclear attack unless he’s prepared to do it; likewise, don’t threaten to move out unless you really think that’s the solution.

    7. The right third party can help

    Third parties intervening in a dispute between two countries can help them keep peace, especially when the arbiter is seen as legitimate by both sides. Get a good therapist, and get everyone’s buy-in.

    8. Even symbolic stuff can make a difference

    Some research suggests that signing an international agreement, like the Paris Climate Accord, can compel countries to change their behavior, but other research shows agreements only attract countries that are already following the rules. Marriage may operate the same way — it could change your behavior, but it’s more likely only going to reflect the relationship as it is. Still, neither are necessarily useless — agreements of all kinds can serve as “focal points” that clarify what kind of behavior the other is going to follow.

    So there you have it! All of these are easier said than done, of course. We still see countries go to war and we still see couples fight. But these are the strategies people use to cope with “uncertainty about the future and the intentions of others,” Alexander Von Hagen-Jamar, a postdoctoral fellow at Lund University, said.

    “Leaders of countries and people in relationships are both constantly wary of having their territories attacked or their hearts broken,” said Sarah Croco, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland.

    Yet, it all may be worth the risk of conflict if it helps us get to cooperation, because cooperation is more than just the absence of war. It means being able to accomplish things we can’t alone — like operate an International Space Station or, you know, fall in love.

    Colorado businesses, cities feel ripple effects

    The ripple effects from the longest government shutdown in U.S. history are growing stronger in Colorado, buffeting business owners dependent on tourism, communities counting on federal funds, furloughed federal workers and people drilling on and keeping tabs on public lands.

    Twenty-seven days into a partial government shutdown, business in Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, was “slower than slow,” a longtime store owner said Thursday.

    “Since the middle of last week, things have dropped off dramatically. The town’s fairly deserted,” said Charley Dickey, who owns a gift and home-decor store in Estes Park.

    Business typically drops off in town as fall turns to winter. But the lack of services in the national park and the decision to shut the entrances when the roads became snowy and icy seem to be discouraging visitors.

    The park is using Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement funds to bring back a limited number of employees to do limited maintenance, including plowing roads, so people can at least drive into the park now. Still, Dickey fears that people are just deciding not to make the trip.

    “We will go for hours and there will be nobody in our store. We usually see a reasonable amount of traffic, even this time of year,” Dickey said.

    On an email survey by Dickey, president of the Estes Valley Partners for Commerce board, about 100 business owners said they have experienced losses because of the shutdown. He plans to share the results with town officials next week.

    The partial shutdown kicked in when funding lapsed for about a quarter of the federal government, including the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service.

    A standoff between President Donald Trump and Congress over $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the U.S. southern border has blocked approval of the money needed to reopen the agencies. More than 800,000 federal employees are furloughed or working without pay.

    “In the old days, people would look for common ground and have discussions,” said Dickey. “That doesn’t seem to be the way of the world any more. Sad.”

    And while federal workers are expected to receive back pay when the shutdown ends, Dickey said affected business people won’t. They’ll have to try to make it up down the road, he added.

    Kent Mountain Adventure Center in Estes Park has been expanding its guided winter activities, from backcountry skiing to snowshoeing, and working toward being a year-round employer. Co-owner Dustin Dyer said Friday the winter business has steadily grown the past five years, so he thought this would be the break-through year.

    Then came the partial government shutdown Dec. 22. Dyer said about 60 percent of his customers have canceled as a result.

    “The peak season for winter is right around Christmas and New Year,” Dyer said. “We just lost that whole peak season.”

    Down the road from Estes Park, it’s the status of federal grants for disaster relief rather than tourism that has people nervous. The town of Lyons, devastated by the 2013 flood that hit about two dozen Colorado counties, is supposed to be in its final year of funding for restoration projects that include replacing a bridge that provides access to numerous homes and two schools and relocating a water line.

    “We have five major projects that are currently being held up at the federal level because of lack of staff to review and approve them,” said Victoria Simonsen, Lyons town administrator.

    Simonsen is concerned about losing some of the $15 million in funding lined up for the projects if the town misses deadlines because there’s no one at the federal level to do the work.

    The federal agencies the town is working with — the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Commerce Department — are among those shuttered.

    The state is the recipient of the federal grants and the town is the sub-recipient. Staffers at two of the agencies handling the grants said the funding has been approved and the shutdown, while creating delays, won’t affect the projects.

    “The funding for all those programs have already been allocated. No disaster funding is impacted by the shutdown,” said Micki Trost, spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

    If necessary, the state and town can apply for extensions, said Natriece Bryant, chief administrative officer for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

    What worries Simonsen is not knowing whether the extensions will be granted. She said she was taken aback when the president talked about using disaster funds to pay for the border wall if he can’t get congressional approval.

    Furloughed federal workers in Colorado, who aren’t being paid, are applying for unemployment benefits to get by. As of Friday, the number of claims related to the shutdown totaled 2,416, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said in a release. That’s out of 13,072 claims submitted since Dec 22.

    Interior Department employees have filed 39 percent of the claims. Others are Agriculture Department, 23 percent; federal contractors, 13 percent; Treasury Department, 10 percent; and Justice Department 5 percent.

    The Bureau of Land Management, an Interior Department agency that oversees tens of millions of acres of public land in Colorado and across the West, is operating with a bare-bones crew. The problem, said Nada Culver of The Wilderness Society, is that it’s hard to figure out which BLM activities are ongoing and which aren’t.

    The oil and gas leases sold by the Colorado BLM in December are being issued but no information has been posted on lease sales scheduled for March and June, said Culver, The Wilderness Society’s senior counsel and director of the group’s Denver-based Bureau of Land Management Action Center. The lack of information matters because there are specific deadlines and limited time periods for public comments, she added.

    The BLM is charged with being stewards of the land, protecting the natural resources and the multiple uses of the land, not just processing oil and gas leases and permits, Culver said.

    “That’s the law, that’s not just my opinion as someone with The Wilderness Society,” Culver said. “You can’t ignore the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act. Our concern is that’s just what they’re doing right now.”

    She noted the deadline for public comments on the Interior Department’s proposal to limit requests for public records under the Freedom of Information Act is Jan. 28.

    No one answered calls Friday at the Colorado BLM, including in the communications and director’s offices. A recording said agency funding had lapsed and the staff isn’t authorized to work during the shutdown.

    Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, a trade association, said BLM employees processing oil and gas drilling permits on public lands are being paid by revenue from permit fees.

    “BLM is maintaining a skeletal staff, in general,” Sgamma. “But there are things happening out in the field, and for safety considerations that is one of those essential functions that it does need to maintain.”

    However, if the shutdown drags on, Sgamma said the upcoming lease sales might not happen. And although companies typically apply for drilling permits several months in advance, Sgamma said they might have to wait longer than usual if the bulk of the BLM staff doesn’t go back to work for a while.

    “You’re going to see rigs having to be laid down because the permits just aren’t there,” Sgamma said.

    The shutdown’s effects on business aren’t relegated to those dependent on tourism near national parks or drilling on public lands. Businesses that import their goods or need approval for products, like brewers and winemakers, are running into problems as well.

    Craig Lewis, the owner of a Boulder-based wine distributor Stelvio Selections, never thought the shutdown would impact his livelihood.

    “Honestly, two weeks ago I didn’t see any reason to be worried about it,” Lewis told the Boulder Daily Camera.

    But with the shutdown in its fourth week, Lewis and others in the alcohol industry are feeling the impact.

    “It’s a trickle-down effect,” Lewis said. “And the longer it goes on, the more people it’s going to reach.”