by: GAZETTE FILE PHOTO - Ralph Webber searches for wildlife at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in this 2010 photo. The refuge is included in the federal government's shutdown of many agencies.It’s back open!

After closing up following the announcement of the federal government’s shutdown, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is back in full swing as of Thursday morning.

That’s when employees unlocked the front gate for the first time in more than two weeks.

A biologist who answered the phone at the refuge said that they already had visitors. He also said they had to clean up some down trees and debris left over from the storms that swept through the area at the end of September.

On Wednesday, the day before it reopened, Cheryl Hart, president of the Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, said she had been hearing from visitors anxious to get back to the scenic area, the entrance of which is located at 19255 S.W. Highway 99W.

“I know that many of our regular visitors and Friends members are in ‘withdrawal’ and anxious to be able to return to the refuge, especially since this is one of the most interesting times of the year there, with returning waterfowl and seasonal changes,” Hart said in an email. “It has been interesting to learn how few people realized the refuge was one of the public lands that has been closed by the shutdown until they tried to go there for a visit.”

She said media attention was focused on national parks being closed, but little mention had been made about national wildlife refuges.

Hart said that she had heard reports of people walking into the locked refuge, walking along trails with their dogs, something that is never allowed. In addition, people were reported on the seasonal trail, a route that is closed from Oct. 1 to May 1 to protect breeding and nesting wildlife. 

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge includes 3,058 acres of land with an initial 12-acre private donation established at the refuge in 1993.

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