With the federal government locked in self-afflicted paralysis as of midnight, all 561 national wildlife refuges and 368 national parks are now closed to the public. However, nearly all of the country’s 155 national forests and 2,400 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas, as well as vast sprawls of lands managed by the BLM and other federal agencies, remain accessible and available for hunting and fishing.
The thumb-nail rule: Where federal lands remain open to public access, it remains lawful to hunt and fish in accordance with locally applicable state law.
The catch is, with more than 80 percent of Forest Service employees and 95 percent of the BLM’s workforce set to be furloughed by Oct. 5, only emergency response and minimal law enforcement services will be available. The skeletal staffing means all pending federal permit applications, where required, will be frozen, and access to some areas in national forests, wilderness areas, USACE-managed recreation areas and BLM lands will be restricted by possible road closures.