ARCO, Idaho - Enough volunteers have been found for an upcoming search for the missing hiker at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, the family said Wednesday afternoon.
Despite the government shutdown, searchers have been continuing their efforts to find Dr. Jodean "Jo" Elliott-Blakeslee, 63. She was reported missing Sept. 24, along with her hiking partner, Amy Linkert, 70. Linkert's body was found Sept. 25. Linkert likely died of hypothermia and dehydration, officials said.
This week, the search for Elliott-Blakeslee has been scaled back, but not due to the drama on Capitol Hill.
"After last weekend's big effort to locate Dr. Jo, we had intended to scale back search operations given the environmental conditions we have been experiencing," said Park Superintendent Dan Buckley in a news release.
Craters of the Moon employees and a Butte County sheriff's deputy have continued the search amid the partial shutdown of the federal government.
ABC News has estimated 800,000 of the more than 2 million federal workers could be furloughed during the shutdown. Craters of the Moon has 19 employees. It was planned to have all but three of those employees on furlough during the shutdown. With the search still happening, the park got permission to keep 10 additional employees on as "excepted" and continue with the search, now concentrated in the Derelict Lava Flow area.
"The 10 people working the search are experienced rangers, in top physical condition," said Ted Stout, the park's chief of interpretation and public information officer for this search. "The terrain in the park can be brutal. It, along with the adverse weather conditions we have been experiencing … has already taken a toll on searchers and search dogs. ..."
Craters of the Moon staff, along with the Butte County Sheriff's Office, worked with the family of Elliott-Blakeslee to organize a volunteer search operation beginning Friday. If you volunteered, but were not called by park officials, the family is asking that you do not come. If you want to know more about the search effort and other ways to help, go to https://www.facebook.com/SearchForDrJo, which was has been set up by Elliott-Blakeslee's family.
"The probability of finding her alive has diminished, but we are committed to continuing the search until we find Dr. Jo and bring closure to her family, friends and all those who have been involved in this search," said Buckley.