Threats Close USDA Offices In Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP/CBS4) — Some U.S. Agriculture Department offices in Fort Collins are among those closed around the country Tuesday because of anonymous threats it considered serious.

A spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, Sally Mayberry, says four buildings used by department agencies at the Natural Resources Research Center have been closed.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Over 1,000 people from several government agencies work at the campus near Colorado State University. It’s not clear if the closures are also affecting people who work for non-agriculture department agencies.

USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick said in a statement on Tuesday that the department had received “several anonymous messages” that raised concerns about the safety of USDA personnel and facilities.

Herrick said the department is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal and local law enforcement to determine whether the threats are credible.

In an email to employees, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA is closing the offices “due to the serious nature of these threats.” He did not characterize the threats or say how they were received, but asked employees to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity.

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said the Department of Homeland Security is working with USDA “to ensure the safety of their offices and the personnel that work there.”

Offices are also closed in Hamden, Connecticut; Beltsville, Maryland; Raleigh, North Carolina; Kearneysville, West Virginia and Leetown, West Virginia.

They include offices for eight USDA agencies, including the Forest Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Among the sites affected was USDA’s sprawling agricultural research center and library in Beltsville, where employees were informed of the threat Tuesday morning and sent home.

In his memo to employees, Vilsack said employees could telework or take authorized leave.

The temporary closures may affect some tourists. In Colorado, the Forest Service’s Canyon Lakes Ranger District tweeted that their information center is closed.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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