Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion

After 35 days of a partial federal government shutdown, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is back on its normal schedule.

Across the country, many public lands remained open for residents to use. Joshua Tree National Park in California was forced to close mid-shutdown after the park was vandalized. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge was spared any major vandalism, Steve Miller, deputy refuge manager said.

“There were no major incidents to report,” Miller said. “We’re still trying to dig out of the snow though.”

Out of any time of the year, he said January was the best time for the shutdown to happen. Most visitors come to the refuge in the summertime. The roads weren’t maintained, which could have also prevented visitors from getting to the refuge.

Residents who entered the refuge cleaned up after themselves, Miller said.

“It’s mostly local people who were using (the refuge) and they did a good job of taking care of it,” Miller said.

Visitors helped to clean refuge cabins, which are normally maintained by refuge staff.

“It seems like people sort of adopted the cabins,” Miller said. “It looks like people did an exceptional job of cleaning up after themselves, and leaving the cabins ready for the next visitor.”

The Refuge’s winter hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. The refuge is closed Sundays, Mondays and federal holidays.

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