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Government shutdown affects Tamarac, DL Wetlands office

Tamarac Wildlife Refuge is still open to the public during the government shutdown, but its buildings are closed. (file photo)

How does the federal government shutdown affect U.S. Fish & Wildlife property in the Becker County area? Basically, the buildings are closed, but federal land remains open for public use.

Because of the shutdown, most Fish & Wildlife employees have been furloughed at Tamarac and Hamden Slough national wildlife refuges, and at the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District.

A small crew of maintenance and law enforcement personnel are keeping essential roads plowed for emergency vehicles if needed, and are ensuring that the buildings are relatively warm and protected, even though they are not open to the public during the shutdown, said Ryan Frohling, acting project leader during the shutdown for Tamarac, Hamden Slough and the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District.

"All Fish & Wildlife land is still open for public use," he said. "People can still come out and enjoy the refuges and the waterfowl production areas. They can use them just like the shutdown wasn't going on, there just aren't a lot of people around to help them out if they have problems."

White Earth hasn't had any significant impacts from the federal government shutdown yet, but if the shutdown continues for a length of time, some of its programs will be impacted, although details are not available, according to the tribal public affairs office. The tribe is in contact with its lobbyist in Washington, D.C. to get some guidance on what is happening in Washington.

Minnesota least affected

The good news is that, of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Minnesota is the least affected by the shutdown, according to a study by WalletHub.

To find out who is most affected by the 2019 partial shutdown, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across five key metrics.

WalletHub gave double weight to each state's share of federal jobs, gave full weight to federal contract dollars per capita, gave double weight to families receiving SNAP (formerly called food stamps) and gave full weight to access to federal parks and to real estate as a percentage of gross state product, since mortgage processing will be affected by staffing shortages in the IRS, FHA and VA. SNAP funding will continue during the 2019 partial shutdown, but could eventually run out.

According to WalletHub, on Dec. 22, the federal government shut down for the 21st time in history. This time, it's a less-intense partial shutdown, which occurs when Congress fails to pass appropriations bills. The partial shutdown has lasted into the New Year, hitting the 13-day mark on Jan. 3.

By comparison, the longest shutdown ever was 21 days under President Bill Clinton, and only seven shutdowns have ever lasted 10 days or longer. This is the third shutdown under the Trump administration, but the previous ones lasted only one day and three days.

When the government shuts down, some federal employees work without pay or receive a furlough. This includes over 41,000 law enforcement officers, 52,000 IRS workers and 96 percent of NASA employees. "Non-essential" government services also remain inactive and certain benefits are liable to run out of funding. The main issue keeping the government in a partial shutdown is President Trump's call for a border wall, to which Democrats in Congress remain opposed.

Minnesota is considered least impacted by the shutdown, followed by New Hampshire, Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana.

On the other end of the spectrum, Washington, D.C. will feel the most pain, followed by New Mexico, Maryland, Hawaii and Alaska.