Federal shutdown affecting wildlife, forest product and water research conducted in Madison area

December 30, 2018

Centers for wildlife health, forest products research and water science are among the federal offices in the Madison area that have been closed due to the partial federal shutdown.

The United States Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center on Madison’s Southwest Side and the USGS’ Wisconsin Water Science Center in Middleton are both closed.

Both centers employ about 100 workers, many of them researchers, according to news reports and information on their websites.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory, located on the UW-Madison campus, also has been closed. Its employees include 60 research scientists.

Some of the world’s top research on animal disease occurs at the National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road. Besides detecting diseases in wildlife across the country, it provides training and guidance to control and prevent animal diseases.

So while it is officially closed, employees are allowed in the building to take care of animals that are housed there and for emergency calls, according to Margo Harris, the staff assistant for USGS director James F. Reilly.

“They are allowed in the building so many hours per day,” she said.

Harris didn’t say whether those employees receive back pay. But historically, employees who work during a federal shutdown eventually receive back pay.

The Wisconsin Water Science Center collects hydrologic data and investigates the state’s surface water, groundwater, water quality and water use.

Also, more than 100,000 acres of national wildlife refuge and wetlands in Wisconsin remain open during the partial federal shutdown even though staffing at each site is extremely limited, according to Charles Traxler, an external affairs official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“But the visitor’s centers are closed, there are no park rangers and any scheduled programs have been canceled,” Traxler said. “The only employees that are around are law enforcement and others doing checks on buildings.”

The refuge acreage and wetlands aren’t as busy during the winter months but a number of hikers, hunters and others populate them this time of year, Traxler said.

Among the federal offices still open in Madison are those at the federal courthouse.

Last week, James D. Peterson, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, ordered that schedules and deadlines in criminal and civil cases where the U.S. Attorney’s Office represents the U.S. government or a party will remain in effect during the shutdown until further notice.

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