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Missouri agency offers to patrol federal land during shutdown

Thursday, October 10, 2013 | 6:49 p.m. CDT; updated 7:31 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 11, 2013

CORRECTIONS: *A federal offer could reopen national parks with furloughed employees funded by state money. An earlier version of the story misidentified the offer. **"Any way we can get open again would be great," Gene Maggard said. An earlier version of this story misquoted him.

COLUMBIA – The Missouri Department of Conservation has offered the help of its agents in an effort to reopen federally managed land, including the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Are you seeing the effects of the shutdown?

Some readers told us last week that the government shutdown wasn't affecting them immediately but that it would if it continued. Well, we've entered week two, and the Missourian wants to know whether it has disrupted your life. Are there websites or information that you can't access? Offices or institutions you need closed that are closed? Checks that aren't coming in the mail? In your work or in your personal life, what are the effects?

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Joe Jerek, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the department has offered to use its agents to help patrol the Ozark National Scenic Riverways along the Jacks Fork and Current River, as well as other federal lands that were closed as a result of the government shutdown, "so public use and associated recreation offerings can be reopened." He said he was waiting to hear back from the Department of the Interior.

The Department of Conservation also offered to use its equipment and manpower to stock trout in Lake Taneycomo from the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, which was closed by the shutdown.

The department offered routine patrols by its agents in an effort to help reopen lakes managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, as well, Jerek said.

In a separate proposal, the Interior Department on Thursday offered to reopen some national parks across the country if state governors could provide funding for furloughed employees.

A representative for Gov. Jay Nixon did not immediately return calls Thursday.

*For canoe rental companies paralyzed by the government shutdown, the news of the offer came as a surprise.

"Gosh, that's kind of weird," said Shane Van Steenis, the owner of Harvey's Alley Spring Canoe Rental. "I wouldn't of even thought of anything like that."

Van Steenis said the last two weeks have hurt his business.

"My phone has been ringing every day," he said. "This is a perfect time of year. Leaves are changing. It's good for camping, and it's good for canoeing, yet here we are."

Gene Maggard, owner of Aker's Ferry Canoe Rental, estimated he was losing between $5,000 and $6,000 because of the shutdown. He said he expects to lose an additional $2,000 in revenue this weekend.

 **"Any way we can get open again would be great," he said.

 Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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