Infrastructure & Environment

Wisconsin Refuses Federal Directive to Close Some Parks

The state Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday refused a directive from the National Park Service to close a host of popular state properties because of the federal government shutdown.
October 3, 2013
 

The state Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday refused a directive from the National Park Service to close a host of popular state properties because of the federal government shutdown.

The park service ordered state officials to close the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine, Devil's Lake, and Interstate state parks and the state-owned portion of the Horicon Marsh, but state authorities rebuffed the request because the lion's share of the funding came from state, not federal coffers.

State officials opted to keep public lands open as Gov. Scott Walker blamed both Republicans and Democrats for the partial government shutdown and said congressional leaders should run the nation more like Wisconsin. Democrats balked at those comments, saying the Republican governor has had a tumultuous tenure that has divided people.

Even though federal lands such as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshorehave been shuttered, the DNR issued a statement saying all state parks, trails and other recreational properties were open and not affected by the federal government's budget problems.

The agency also reopened a boat launch Wednesdayat Wyalusing State Park on the Mississippi River. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed the launch on Tuesday because it was on federal land.

But in a sign of defiance, the DNR removed the barricades at the landing, saying it had the legal authority to operate the launch under a 1961 agreement with the federal government.

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