Shutdown impacts outdoorsmen

Regardless of your philosophy when it comes to the federal government shutdown and the politics driving it, one thing is certain: Nevada’s outdoor enthusiasts will be impacted. The question is just how much of an impact the shutdown will have and in what way.

As of this writing, no one knows how long the shutdown will last, but as long as it is in effect, the entire Lake Mead National Recreation Area is closed. And that means just what it says, starting with a closure of all entrances and park roads. Northshore Road and Lakeshore Drive, which both serve as thruways as well as access roads to the recreation area, are included in that closure.

If the roads are closed, don’t plan to launch your boat or pull it out of its slip and go for a joy ride. All marinas and launch ramps are closed. “Those with personal property within the park, such as boats, trailers or cabins, will be allowed access into the park to either remove their vessels or trailers or to remove belongings from their property,” the Park Service stated. “Boats may not be removed from slips for recreation purposes within the park, and overnight stays are prohibited after Oct. 2.”

If you want to go fishing, you will need to look elsewhere. State parks such as Spring Valley, Echo Canyon, Cave Lake and others are unaffected by the budget impasse and offer excellent fall fishing opportunities. Since hunting seasons are underway, this could put extra pressure on the park campgrounds, so you might need to be flexible in your plans.

Since most of the publicly owned land in Nevada is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which has few organized and managed facilities, most hunters and anglers should be largely unaffected by the closure. If you are planning on camping or hunting in an undeveloped area with “no controlled access, you may visit. However, there will be no services, and there will no non-emergency services available,” according to the BLM contingency plan.

In addition, all recreation facilities on BLM-managed lands, including campgrounds, boat ramps and other amenities will be closed. Most roads will remain open, especially those that provide access for communities or serve as major transportation routes. Don’t bother trying to find out more details because the BLM website has been placed on furlough along with those of other land-managing agencies.

Licensed outfitters and other commercial operations holding BLM permits will be able to continue their operations on BLM-managed lands as long as they do not require field monitoring or assistance by agency personnel.

If you were planning on hunting or fishing at one of Nevada’s seven national wildlife refuges, forget about it. They all are closed to visitors until the government shutdown is lifted. Four of the seven refuges are found in Southern Nevada, but hunting is permitted only on the Ash Meadows and Pahranagat refuges. This makes them popular destinations for waterfowl hunters, so a lengthy closure would have a significant impact.

When it comes to the lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, I could find no information about impacts of the government shutdown on outdoor enthusiasts, nothing about road and/or campground closures. I simply was directed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, where I found a message that said the website was unavailable due to a lapse in funding.

My guess is the restrictions and closures on lands managed by the Forest Service are similar to those on BLM lands, but I would make sure to have options built into my travel and camping plans just in case you find unexpected closures.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at

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