Updated January 17, 2019
Voyageurs National Park
Government Shutdown Updates & Impacts
Voyageurs National Park Association is partnering with the Park Service to sustain partial winter operations for visitor safety at Voyageurs during the government shutdown.
At Voyageurs, snow is accumulating and lake ice is forming and changing, causing unique visitor safety issues. Voyageurs National Park’s access is too porous to close the park to address these safety concerns. Voyageurs National Park Association, the park's official nonprofit partner, is providing a special grant to support partial winter operations.
Along with the use of federal fee revenue, this will help bring back a small team of park staff to open the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for weekend hours, groom some ski trails, conduct ice condition assessments for visitor safety, and groom the Green Trail for snowmobilers.
Given Voyageurs is nearly impossible to close, the main role of support from VNPA is to assure that visitors who do venture into the park have safe opportunities. VNPA cannot, and should not fill the roles of Park Service personnel, or help to run the full operations of the park in lieu of our park’s furloughed employees. As a partner to Voyageurs National Park, we are funding only essential operations until the shutdown ends.
The longer the shutdown lasts, the more difficult this is on federal employees who are not being paid. Some are working without pay and most are furloughed. The prolonged shutdown will also impact park and VNPA planning and activities in 2019.
What you can do to help
Consider giving a special gift to help Voyageurs National Park Association.
Be a Park Advocate!
Tell your senators to protect parks and end the shutdown! Ask them to demand that Senate leadership calls a vote on the House of Representatives' consensus plan that could end the shutdown and reopen our parks. Call (202) 224-3121 for the Senate switchboard.
Be Safe & Leave No Trace
There are limited park rangers on duty so please be careful and help us protect park resources by using Leave No Trace principles.
Let Park Staff Know We Miss Them
Join us and partners on social media. Share your personal story and appreciation of National Park Service staff using the hashtag #EssentialRanger and #EssentialNPS
During the shutdown of the federal government, please use extreme caution when enjoying winter recreation in Voyageurs. Services and emergency response are extremely limited and not all trails are being maintained. Only a staked snowmobile trail is a safe trail. NPS websites and social media are not being monitored or updated and may not reflect current trail and weather conditions.
The Rainy Lake Visitor Center will now be open Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Support provided by the Voyageurs National Park Association will allow staff at Voyageurs National Park to pack and groom cross country ski trails in the vicinity of the Rainy Lake Visitor Center, assuring safe access and use by those seeking winter experience opportunities.
Echo Bay Ski Trail - Packed
Rainy Lake Recreation Trail - Packed
New this year: park staff will be grooming one side of the Rainy Lake Recreation Trail that connects Minnesota Highway 11 with the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for classical cross-country skiing. While one side of the trail will include a set ski track, the other side will remian ungroomed for snowshoeing, winter walking and other non-motorized winter activities.
Black Bay Ski Trail - If ice conditions allow, skiers can access the Black Bay Ski Trail network by skiing across the frozen surface of Black Bay to the trailhead. No road is plowed.
Blind Ash Bay Trail, Oberholtzer Trail, Sullivan Bay Trail, Rainy Lake Recreation Trail- Open with minimal snow
Rainy Lake/Black Bay to Kabetogama Lake to Ash River (Green Trail) - Open, Packed, and Staked
Snowmobilers should use caution as conditions change daily. The Green Trail is the only safe marked snowmobile trail open in the park at this time.
Ice Roads - Not Open
Sphunge Island, Kabetogama Lake sledding hill and skating rink - Not Open
Park staff are continuing ice assessments and grooming limited open trails.
EVENTS & PROGRAMS
Due to the federal government shutdown we have to cancel the Night Light Snowshoe Hike that was scheduled for January 18. Although Voyageurs National Park Association is providing some funding support for partial winter operations, limited park staff have to focus on visitor safety and natural resource protection at this time. However, the Rainy Lake Visitor Center will be open this Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 4:30 p.m. with free snowshoe and ski rental and recommendations for safe places to enjoy Voyageurs National Park. Have a wonderful and safe Icebox Days weekend.
The federal government partially shut down on December 22 after the President and Congress failed to reach an agreement to fund the government, including our national parks. About a third of parks have closed completely, while others have virtually no staff or services, leaving visitors and resources unprotected. The shutdown is impacting national parks, Park Service employees, and local communities and businesses. As we continue through of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, all of us at Voyageurs National Park Association share concern for our furloughed friends, the handful of staff working long hours to safeguard the park, and for the small business owners who rely on this winter tourism season.
"Even if Voyageurs is technically still accessible, a government shutdown is never good news for our national parks. Voyageurs and all our parks are under-funded and under-staffed already. It’s frustrating to see Park Service staff dealing with income uncertainty. We need them; there’s a lot of work to be done, not only to preserve places like Voyageurs but to ensure public safety," stated Christina Hausman, executive director of Voyageurs National Park Association.
We join with park partners across the country in our plea to reopen the Department of the Interior and keep our National Parks protected, funded, and staffed. Voyageurs and all our parks will feel the repercussions of this shutdown for months to come.