Federal lands and recreational facilities re-opened to hunters, anglers, birdwatchers and others today after the 16-day partial government shutdown ended late Wednesday.
"Our rangers are out getting the gates open now," says Jim Buck, Rogue Valley Basin operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We're back to normal, fully open for business."
The Corps-managed boat ramps on the Rogue River as well as Lost Creek Lake had been gated and closed since the Oct. 1 shutdown.
Likewise, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest re-opened access to boat ramps around Applegate Lake, while the federal Bureau of Land Management returned access to its two boat ramps at Hyatt Lake — the only ramp access on that reservoir east of Ashland.
The various federal agencies had varied greatly on how they handled access to lands and recreational facilities during the 16-day period when only essential federal employees remained at work until a budget agreement could be worked out in Congress.
Corps lands were closed to the public in Southern Oregon, but it was not enforced at places such as the Cole Rivers Hatchery boat ramp and the "Holy Water" trout-fishing impoundment between the hatchery and Lost Creek dam.
The Forest Service allowed access to its lands but not some facilities such as Applegate Lake ramps. However, the Umpqua National Forest did not block access to its ramps at Diamond Lake, where anglers used the ramp and parking areas — many without paying the launch fee.
The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge system in Klamath County and Northern California also opened this morning to bird watchers and waterfowl hunters who have been locked out of the facilities for the first half of October.
— Mark Freeman