Federal Government Shutdown Shutters Some Operations In Iowa

Dec 26, 2018

As the partial federal government shutdown continues, some sites and services across Iowa are scaling back operations.

Federal workers considered essential are still on the job, including law enforcement. But other federal governments operations in the state are closing up or cutting back on their services.

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum and Library in West Branch is closed to visitors and researchers "until further notice." Staffers apologized for the closure on the center's Facebook page, saying the museum would be back open "as soon as possible."

The National Weather Service will keep operating 24/7 through the shutdown, providing forecasts and public warnings, but social media updates may be limited, according to the Facebook page for the NWS Des Moines office.

National wildlife refuges across the state will have only minimal staff on site to maintain basic operations, according to Chuck Traxler, an assisstant regional director with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

“There will be staff at every refuge, again just doing the essential stuff to make sure public equipment is safe and secure. Just to make sure in case something breaks or there’s any kind of emergency maintenance needed,” Traxler said.

The federal conservation lands in Iowa, including Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City and Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge, which covers portions of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, will remain open to visitors and hunters, if applicable

“Most of our national wildlife refuges we follow state hunting seasons, so if there is a legal hunting season going on, and that refuge is open to that hunting, it’s open to the public to use," Traxler said. "I would add we do have law enforcement folks that are all on duty so there will be law enforcement folks around as well.”

Trails at Effigy Mounds National Monument near Harpers Ferry, Iowa remain open as well, according to a Facebook page for the site. A posting by staff warns access may change "without notice" and that typical services will not be provided.

Traxler says officers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement will respond as needed, but urges any visitor experiencing an emergency to dial 911.

A post on the Upper Mississippi Refuge Facebook page warned visitors to be cautious if they visit federal conservation lands during the shutdown.

"Refuge visitors are advised to use extreme caution if choosing to enter units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, as FWS personnel will not be able to provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response on Refuge System property. Any entry onto Refuge System property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor's sole risk," the statement reads.

Funding for parts of the federal government ran out as President Donald Trump and members of Congress fight over building a wall along the southern U.S. border.