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Outdoors blog

Fri., Oct. 11, 2013, 12:43 p.m.

Federal shutdown still taking toll on recreation

Dworshak Reservoir. (Associated Press)
Dworshak Reservoir. (Associated Press)

PUBLIC LANDS -- As the federal government shutdown advances to Day 11, I was buoyed by this headline and story today:

Utah loans federal gov't $1.7-million to open 5 national parks
On Saturday, the five national parks in Utah, as well as Natural Bridges, Glen Canyon and Cedar Breaks national monuments, will reopen after the state signed an agreement to loan $1.7-million to the federal government, enough to keep them open for 10 days.

But we can't get our hopes too high in Washington -- where we're not even adequatley funding our STATE parks.

Maybe a caffeine high will be our salvation:

Starbucks launches petition drive to get government open again
On Friday, petitions seeking the reopening of the federal government will be available at all 11,000 Starbucks shops in the United States.

Although many people and businesses are suffering this week in all walks of life, my outdoors column on Thursday highlighted some high prices recreationists are paying for the budget impasse in Washington, D.C. Here's a summary as we head into the weekend:

All 401 national parks are closed, including Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and the public boat launches for the Columbia River Reservoir. Note: Free boat launching is available at Two Rivers Marina, owned by the Spokane Tribe.

National Wildlife Refuges are closed. That means hunters with special elk permits for Turnbull Wildlife Refuge are out of luck, waterfowl hunter who would be using blinds at Columbia and Kootenai national wildlife refuges and locked out and fishermen who would by catching trout at Bayley and McDowell lakes are prohibited from entering the refuge until the shutdown is over.

Forest Service offices are closed, which means outfitters can't get permits for their seasonal activities and neither can woodcutters, all of whom are on a deadline delivered by the seasons regardless of what goes on in Washington, D.C.

Hunters are finding campgrounds closed as they head into the opening of deer and elk seasons.

Anglers are finding streamflow information on U.S. Geological Survey water websites and fish passage numbers from the Corps of Engineeers are not always up to date.

Hikers trying to finish the months they've devoted to completing the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail are being blocked at the national park boundaries, such as at North Cascades National Park, and told they have to stop or re-route.

Other stories to ponder as the arrogancen in D.C. continues:

Shutdown halts logging project in Idaho, puts sawmill in peril
Brad Jensen, the owner of Jensen Lumber Co., the sawmill in Ovid, is just one of a number of timber contractors who were told to stop logging in Idaho because of the federal government shutdown, and Jensen said the cessation of the work puts his entire business at risk.

Wyoming national forest sends its concessionaires packing
Grand Teton National Forest had kept its concessionaire-operated facilities operating despite the Oct. 1 government shutdown, but they were told to pack up and leave as the shutdown continued, which means Granite Hot Springs in the Wyoming forest closes today.

National wildlife refuges off-limits to hunters as federal shutdown continues
Upland bird hunters in South Dakota, duck hunters in Montana and antelope hunters in Colorado won't be able to hunt on national wildlife refuges this weekend as seasons open but the federal government remains closed.

Montana governor says state won't pay to open national parks
Gov. Steve Bullock said he would not use state funds to open state parks as he believes the federal government should re-open it its entirety, including the payment of death benefits to members of military families who lost loved ones.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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