Refuge closed due to federal shutdown

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — The shutdown earlier last week of U.S. government agencies had limited impact on day-to-day life in Trenton and Downriver communities.

City Administrator Jim Wagner said municipal funds are secured but Environmental Protection Agency operations on Grosse Ile and the federally funded Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and regional units closed beginning Tuesday.

“It has not impacted us, yet,” Wagner said. The city pays for some firefighters through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but those are billed quarterly and last week’s shutdown had no immediate impact.

According to a press statement sent Tuesday by John Hartig, manager of the refuge on behalf of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “All public access to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, including the Humbug Marsh Unit, Gibraltar Bay Unit and all units open to hunting are closed.”

Funding for the operation expired on Oct. 1, and public activities at the facility was cancelled.

Phone calls to the agency were not answered. A recorded message reported that until the shutdown ends, staff will be unavailable “and will not be checking voice mails.”

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge consists of nearly 6,000 acres of islands, wetlands, marshes, shoals and waterfront lands along 48 miles of the Detroit River and Lake Erie. The U.S. Department of the Interior maintains the refuge’s preservation and environmental programs.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is aware that any lapse in appropriations imposes hardships on those we serve,” Hartig said. “Only limited functions will continue, such as those necessary to respond to emergencies, perform essential functions and to protect human life or personal property.”

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(James Mitchell can be reached at