Federal shutdown affecting anglers nationwide

And all over the country, employees of the NPS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are doing what they are told, which is to keep anglers and others off federally managed public lands waters.

But the shutdown isn’t being enforced uniformly. In Alaska, the NPS and the Bureau of Land Management have left their properties open for hunting and fishing. But the FWS is denying access, despite the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act, which requires the federal government to give full notice before shutting down access. And this shows “how badly the shutdown has been managed,” reported the Washington Times.

 “While much of the federal government is closed, the parks and other federal lands are drawing an extreme amount of scrutiny, possibly because the Obama administration has decided to close down areas that remained open during previous shutdowns,” the newspaper added.

Here’s what is going on at  fisheries across the country:

“The Potomac River has several marinas on NPS land from Washington, D.C., to just south of Alexandria, Virginia,” said Potomac River guide Steve Chaconas. “The NPS placed barricades on Tuesday morning right after the midnight government shutdown.

“In particular, they closed Belle Haven Marina. This marina is on land owned by the NPS; however, it is operated by a concessionaire who pays the federal government.”

Even without a shutdown, the Potomac is “access challenged,” Chaconas continued. Now, anglers have no options north of Alexandria so they must travel either 45 minutes south to Virginia’s Pohick Bay Regional Park or go across the bridge to Fort Washington Marina in Maryland.

“Anglers are now launching at unfamiliar ramps and having to either fish in unfamiliar waters or take longer boat rides, burning expensive gasoline, just to head up to spots they have been fishing all summer,” he said.

In Georgia, Bucca reported that both Carters and Allatoona, which are Corps managed, are shut down, while 33,000-acre Lake Lanier has access limited to “one or two ramps.”

“Those who are fishing are cramming into the very limited ramps still open,” he said. “Thankfully, it’s deer season or it would be four times as bad as it is now on the weekends.”

In western Tennessee, guide Steve McCadams said, “Several launch ramps and access areas in the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge have been closed off, denying access to bank fishermen, recreational boaters, and the average, everyday angler who uses the launch ramps located near his favorite fishing holes.”

And, he added, the shutdown also has closed access for Land Between the Lakes (Barkley and Kentucky), which is managed by the USFS. “That has likely diminished some tourism dollars for the region in more ways than one, as both fishermen and hunters are unable to visit, camp, and access the public lands and waters that are vital to this area’s economy,” he said.

From the Northwest, Chuck Lang, former conservation director for the Oregon B.A.S.S. Nation reported, “It appears that if a water body and all of the facilities are owned by the feds, they will be closed and most likely gated. If they are on USFS property, but facilities are owned and/or operated by private business contracts or by the county, they can be open.”

In Oregon and Washington, he added, “most sportsmen are turning to salmon, steelhead while many reservoirs are drawn down. Access is restricted by lack of water more than gates across the road, but it sounds like they would stop folks at federal facilities if they showed up.

“No one has heard of folks been turned away yet. However, they don't answer their phones or keep us updated on a water- by-water basis either.”