Effigy Mounds, Fish and Wildlife Service shut down

On the first day of the shutdown, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put up this small barrier and posting at the entrance to the Sturgeon Slough Hiking Trail between Prairie du Chien and Marquette. There are various barriers and postings in the Prairie du Chien, Marquette and McGregor area. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

This sign at Effigy Mounds National Monument says it all. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)


By Ted Pennekamp


Locals and visitors alike saw visible signs of the partial federal government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, as both Effigy Mounds National Monument and the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service were closed.


As a result of the shutdown, the 29th annual Effigy Mounds Hawk Watch, which was scheduled for Oct. 5 and 6, was canceled.


October’s Archeology Month programs have also been canceled at Effigy Mounds.


All trails and facilities at Effigy Mounds are closed for the duration of the shutdown. All social media operated by the National Park Service, including websites, Facebook and Twitter, are not in operation. 


“Due to the federal government shutdown, Effigy Mounds National Monument is closing,” said Jim Nepstad, Effigy Mounds Superintendent. “We’ll reopen as soon as the shutdown ends. In the meantime, the park is closed. This includes the visitor center and all hiking trails. Any events scheduled in the park for the duration of the shutdown will be canceled. We’ll have a skeleton crew around to keep an eye on things, but the park itself will be closed.”


In a news release, FWS said much the same: “The McGregor District Office of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge and the Driftless Area National Widlife Refuge are closed as current funding expired on Oct. 1, 2013. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is aware that any lapse in appropriations imposes hardships on those we serve. However, due to this lapse in appropriations all National Wildlife Refuges are closed to the public and all public activities are canceled. 


“Only limited functions will continue, such as those necessary to respond to emergencies, perform essential functions and to protect human life or personal property.  


“While the lapse in appropriations remains in effect, public access to Fish and Wildlife Service properties will be prohibited, fish and wildlife management activities and all public programs will be canceled.” 


However, despite the shutdown, for some governmental entities, it is business as usual.


The locks and dams on the Mississippi River, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will remain open for the duration of the shutdown because commercial river traffic and flood control are considered core functions.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District spokesman George Stringham said that both lock and dam and dredging operations to keep the channel clear will continue during the shutdown, as they have been deemed vital government services. The locks will also be open for recreational boaters.


An operator at Lock and Dam 9 said the shutdown is not affecting the operation of the Lock and Dam whatsoever. All of the regular personnel are on the job and work is continuing as normal.


Lock and Dam 9 is located south of Lynxville, and 12 miles north of Marquette. It serves as a step in the Upper Mississippi River water stairway of 29 locks and dams.


Those hunting along the Mississippi River should also note that, while the U.S. Department of the Interior has closed federal access points, federal river properties and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, citizens who gain legal access to the river via open launches are permitted to use the Mississippi River as well as state-owned properties for legal recreational activities, such as waterfowl hunting.


That means boaters and anglers can also continue to launch boats and can fish in the Mississippi River as long as they launch from state-managed launch sites, city-managed launch sites such as those in Prairie du Chien, Marquette and McGregor, or from private launch sites.


Wisconsin and Iowa DNR personnel are unaffected by the federal government shutdown and will continue to patrol the Mississippi River as always.


Additional information is available at www.DOI.gov/shutdown.

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