ARCO, Idaho -- Employees at Craters of the Moon National Monument in south-central Idaho have received an exemption from federal furlough requirements so rangers can continue to search for a Boise woman who has been missing for nearly two weeks.
Sixteen of the monument's 19 employees were to be furloughed during the federal government shutdown that started Tuesday, but the park received permission Wednesday to keep 10 additional workers under "excepted" status during the search for 63-year-old Jo Elliott-Blakeslee.
Elliott-Blakeslee's hiking partner, 69-year-old Amy Linkert, was found dead on Sept. 25. The women were last seen near Arco on Sept. 19.
Park spokesman Ted Stout says the 10 rangers working the search are in top physical condition.
The small search team is also battling difficult weather conditions.
Monument superintendent Dan Buckley says searchers have logged 3,400 hours trying to find Elliot-Blakeslee since she was reported missing last week. He says about 10,000 miles have been walked in the monument, according to GPS tracking software.
"It's treacherous terrain," Buckley said.
Up to 40 volunteers, including an Army National Guard helicopter team, began the search for Elliot-Blakeslee and her companion Amy Linkert on Sept. 23.
Elliott-Blakeslee's family is asking for experienced hikers with backcountry experience to help in the search this coming weekend. Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact Elliot-Blakeslee's family via Facebook.
Elliott-Blakeslee's family released a statement earlier this week thanking those who have helped in the search, and saying that they don't want to risk the safety of inexperienced volunteers. They asked that people interested in volunteering be able to hike 12 miles and climb 1,000 feet at a time in treacherous terrain.