Planning on camping, hunting or launching a boat at a federal site?
Due to the government shutdown, any place with a gate will be closed to the public. This includes Forest Service campgrounds, picnic areas and national wildlife refuges across Montana.
Most notably, archery hunters spread out across the 1.1 million acre Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Central Montana will be told when seen by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement personnel that the area has been closed. Officers won’t go out looking for folks, but when sighted they will be educated and then asked to leave, according to Rick Potts, manager of the refuge. Those intercepts won’t be easy or maybe even common, though, considering there are 670 miles of road on the refuge.
In addition, signs will be posted at entry roads notifying the public of the closure due to the government shutdown.
Potts was not happy about the situation.
“We have been placed in an untenable position where we must ask the owners of this refuge to respect that order and leave,” he said.
It is also peak season for visits to the refuge’s Slippery Ann recreation area where elk herds gather in the fall during mating season with bull elk bugling and fighting within visitors’ view.
“It sickens me to tell them that they can’t enjoy the public resources they own,” Potts said.
At nearby Fort Peck Reservoir, 23 of the 27 recreation areas that include boat ramps, the visitor center and campgrounds, are under management by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps sites are closed and campers are required to leave by 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Those with reservations can receive refunds. The other four sites are managed by the state of Montana and include the Dredge Cut Trout Pond, Hell Creek, Rock Creek fishing access site and Duck Creek FAS. Those will remain open.
Also, forget about going to Yellowstone or Glacier national parks, they are also closed.
(Written by Brett French – Outdoors Editor of the Billings Gazette; Photo: tincantraveler.blogspot.com)