Government shutdown affecting Ohio holdings

The shutdown of the federal government has already impacted at least one segment of Ohio's outdoors community.

When Congress and the Obama Administration failed to reach an accord regarding funding the federal government nearly all of its organs were either forced into operational hibernation or else saw greatly reduced activities.

Among the places and agencies that found themselves shuttered for the duration of the shutdown/slowdown were all of the nation's 561 wildlife refuges.

Which placed a serious hurt on the scheduled youth-only waterfowl hunt set for Saturday (Oct. 5) at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, located east of Toledo.

“We had to call the 20 young hunters who were selected in the lottery drawing that unless the situation changes the hunt will be canceled,” said Vicki Ervin, spokeswoman for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Unknown at this point is how the shutdown/slowdown will impact the controlled archery deer hunts at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

In regard to the similar hunts at NASA's Plumbrook Research Station, located near Sandusky, one element may have already doomed the lottery-selected archery hunters.

Every adult selected for either Plumbrook's controlled archery or firearms hunts first had to undergo an extensive federal background check.

However, since this background check is performed by the FBI – which has reduced its operations – the official look-see into the selected hunters' pasts is a low priority item with the agency.

“We're not sure what the impact may be,” Ervin said. “We'll just have to wait and see.”

Nationally the situation is even more dire for hunters as well as anglers.

In several Upper Midwest states their respective waterfowl hunting seasons have begun but since the nation's refuge system is essentially bolted, waterfowlers, upland bird, and big-game hunters will need to go elsewhere.

The same prohibition applies to anglers, too.

Sports looking to access federal lands owned or administered by the Bureau of Lands Management and the U.S. Forest Service still can utilize such federal holdings, however.

This usage includes the 833,990-acre Wayne National Forest, located in 12 Ohio counties.

That being said, expect minimal support and services, including shuttered federally run campgrounds and possibly some forest service road closures.

Not much help will come about, either, should a person decide to stop at a Forest Service visitor center since those operations are now moth-balled until the shutdown/slowdown ends.

Ervin said as well as that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has no reason to believe that the U.S. Corps of Army Engineer-owned public boat ramps along the Ohio River have been closed to angler access.

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