The government shutdown put an early end to fall U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ outdoor activities earlier this month, although the office — along with its popular boat launch ramps — is open now after a federal budget deal was reached.
On Thursday, October 17, Fish and Wildlife Service officials were met with people waiting at gates for the removal of the barricades at the boat launch ramps.
Fish and Wildlife Service employees had to navigate 40 miles of river to open the 11 area launch ramps in Wabasha, Winona, and Trempealeau counties.
The landings are normally open 24 hours a day, and are free of charge, and their loss forced some outdoor enthusiasts and hunters to pay for the use of different ramps during the shutdown.
“It really was an inconvenience,” said Director of the Winona Fish and Wildlife office Mary Stefanski.
With the cold weather, the boat docks may be removed soon, but other than that, everything at her office is now operating normally, Stefanski added.
Several programs scheduled with area schools, along with other community events, were cancelled as a result of the shutdown. “It’s too cold to reschedule; they are lost opportunities until next year,” said Stefanski of the cancelled events.