TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The government shutdown has closed all public lands managed by the U.S. Interior Department, including national parks and wildlife areas across Florida.
More than 20 employees are out of work at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge south of Tallahassee as a result of the government shutdown.
The refuge spans 70,000 acres along 45 miles of coastline and is a popular spot for walking, hiking, fishing and bird watching.
Now all the boat ramps are closed and upcoming events like the Monarch Festival may have to be canceled.
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St. Marks Wildlife Refuge manager Terry Peacock says it's a bad time to close the area.
"This is the most beautiful time of the year. This is one of our highest public use times of the year because the weather is nice, it's getting a little cooler and we have the Monarch Festival at the end of the month, which will also have to be canceled if the government doesn't open up before then."
Peacock says 23 employees have been furloughed. She and several law enforcement officers are considered furlough-exempted employees so they are still required to report to work to protect the area.
"I hope they resolve this quickly. We've got a lot of the public that really likes to come to the refuge and I've been getting a lot of phone calls and people are sad that they can't come down and use the refuge during this beautiful time of the year."
Florida has about a dozen national parks and more than 25 national wildlife refuges.