TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials say they lost a prime opportunity to rehabilitate and reseed areas burned over the summer by wildfires because of the partial government shutdown.

Workers for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management returned to work Thursday after a 16-day lay-off. The Times-News reports fire officials are now racing quickly against the clock and cooler weather to finish projects delayed by the work stoppage.

BLM Fire Management Officer Chris Simonsen says crews missed three critical weeks of prime time in the field that could have been used to reseed scorched acres and repair damaged fences on public land. Crews are being immediately dispatched to soil stabilization projects in areas burned by the Beaver Creek Fire near Hailey and Ketchum.