October 11, 2013
Dear Director Ashe:
The Committee on Natural Resources ("Committee") requests that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") take steps as necessary to keep and not destroy records related to the decision to order the National Wildlife Refuge System closed. Hunters, fishermen, and other visitors are now being blocked from these sites, many of which are unfenced and not regularly staffed or patrolled by permanent Fish and Wildlife Service employees. Concessionaires who provide educational, transportation, and recreational services in the Refuge system have similarly been forced to shut down.
The Service's delay in not issuing a formal closure order until October 4, 2013, four days after the lapse in appropriations began, has created widespread confusion over the scope, necessity, and timing of the decision. It is especially troubling that the Department of the Interior has been restricting access to public lands inconsistently, closing certain high-profile areas including Refuges across the country while allowing others lands to remain open and accessible.
Read the entire letter HERE.