October 01, 2013
Government Shutdown Restricts Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges, But Other Federal Lands Remain Open - 5
by John Haughey
With the federal government locked in self-afflicted paralysis as of midnight, all 561 national wildlife refuges and 368 national parks are now closed to the public. However, nearly all of the country’s 155 national forests and 2,400 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas, as well as vast sprawls of lands managed by the BLM and other federal agencies, remain accessible and available for hunting and fishing.
The catch is, with more than 80 percent of Forest Service employees and 95 percent of the BLM’s workforce set to be furloughed by Oct. 5, only emergency response and minimal law enforcement services will be available. The skeletal staffing means all pending federal permit applications, where required, will be frozen, and access to some areas in national forests, wilderness areas, USACE-managed recreation areas and BLM lands will be restricted by possible road closures.
“Non-regulated public lands have no changes due to a government shut down,” he continues, “so, ANWR and similar open access public lands are still wide open. What you won't see are any routine maintenance workers in such areas. You may still see a federal law enforcement presence, though it will probably be reduced.”
Although access will remain open to most public lands, Forest Service and BLM administrative offices, visitor centers and developed recreational amenities, such as campgrounds and boat launches, will be closed.
The best advice before hunting any federal land in the wake of a shutdown is to consult your state fish and game department to learn what may, or may not, be affected.
Bad News for Duck Hunters
Hunters and anglers planning to visit national recreation areas managed by the USACE are advised to contact their USACE district office for information regarding the availability of campgrounds and day-use parks operated by concessionaires.
-- Arizona Game and Fish offices and properties will be open during federal government shutdown
About Open Country
Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.
Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.
Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.
We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.
The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.