FWS Office closed, but wildlife refuge open

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FWS is using essential staff only

By Ted Pennekamp


The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is not one of the 38 national wildlife refuges throughout the United States that are returning staffers to work to make sure hunters and others have access despite the government shutdown.

The partial restaffing of 38 wildlife refuges around the country will bring back some furloughed staff using carryover funds.

“While many of our refuges have remained accessible, but not staffed, the extended lapse in federal appropriations is impacting both our ability to serve the public and to protect natural resources under our care in some places,” Margaret Everson, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote in an email on Jan. 8. “For the next 30 days, using previously appropriated funds, we will bring back a limited number of employees to resume work on high priority projects and activities that support the Service’s mission and meet the public’s desire for access to refuge lands.”

There is a notice explaining the situation to the public regarding the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge on the front door of the McGregor District U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office in Prairie du Chien.

The office is closed but the lands and waters of the refuge are open to the public. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman, Charles Traxler, said there are only essential staff working to make sure the building is safe and secure. There is also Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement personnel to patrol the refuge, including pools 9, 10 and 11. The essential staff are working without pay.

“Most of our stations are closed but we have essential staff in order to protect public property,” said Traxler. “Also, if anyone has an emergency, they should call 911. We work with all local law enforcement agencies.”

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