Federal workers back to work after 16-day shutdown

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Furloughed park ranger Rich Lechleitner, left, visits with friend Jana Gardiner co-owner of Ashford Creek Pottery Tuesday Oct. 15, 2013 as Mount Rainier National Park in Washington remained closed due to the partial government shutdown. Gardiner, a 33 year resident of Ashford has seen only a trickle of visitors since the shutdown closed Mount Rainier National Park. (AP Photo/The News Tribune, Dean J. Koepfler)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Barriers are coming down at federal memorials and National Park Service sites, and thousands of relieved but wary federal workers have returned to work across the country.

The employees return Thursday after 16 days off the job due to the partial government shutdown. Those who were furloughed or worked without pay will get back pay in their next paychecks. For most employees, that's Oct. 29.

Greg Bettwy works with the Smithsonian's human resources department and says it's important to get back to serving the public. But other returning workers confronted backlogs and voiced concern that a gridlocked Congress might trigger another shutdown in January.

Among the sites reopening Thursday are Yosemite National Park in California, the Smithsonian Institution's network of popular museums, and the World War II memorial in Washington.