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Oct 01

Government Shut Down and National Wildlife Refuge System – What Happens?

Photo Credit: Evan Hirsche

Photo Credit: Evan Hirsche

You might be wondering how a government shut down will impact our 561 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts.  To begin with – they will all be closed to the public. This includes hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, school trips – anything. Employees or refuge volunteers may NOT volunteer their services. If you are a Friends member or refuge volunteer, if you have anything you might need from the refuge itself, you should get it today.  You will not be allowed on the refuge until the government opens again.  If you have an upcoming celebration for Refuge Week (October 13-19) and it occurs on a refuge, it will be contingent on the government opening back up – you should make plans with refuge staff on what to do in case the government stays closed for several days, a week or longer.  And, should the refuge open in time for your festival, know what your plans are to go forward.  Some FWS staff are “essential” and will be working and available via e-mail and phone – but the vast majority of staff are not essential and will NOT answer e-mails or phone calls; they could be fired if they do.

FWS overall estimates that it will take a half day to shut down most operations; they anticipate that they will need another 100 employees from across FWS that will stay up to 8 hours, and in some cases more, to assure property is secured.  Of the approximately 3500 Refuge System staff, about 310 are considered “essential”.  Throughout the entire FWS, essential staff include animal caretakers, who must feed and care for live animals; refuge management personnel who are expected to protect federal property and public safety; essential infrastructure personnel who are essential to providing support services, such as information technology and building security to other excepted employees; and law enforcement officers, including refuge law enforcement and special agents.  FWS will not retain staff at every refuge, but will have a Refuge Manager or Federal Wildlife Officer at every station with on-site staff, including major refuge complexes.

For more information, read the FWS Shut Down plan:
http://www.doi.gov/shutdown/fy2014/upload/FWS-Final-Contingency-Plan.pdf

Fact Sheet which includes not only refuges but endangered species, fisheries, fire programs and others: http://www.doi.gov/shutdown/fy2014/upload/FWS-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Fact Sheet for Friends organizations operations.Fact Sheet:
http://refugefriendsconnect.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Friends-Operations_Lapse-in-Appropriations.docx

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