Illinois hunting and fishing

The south pool of the Chautauqua National WIldlife Refuge is in the foreground. The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve is across the Illinois River at the top of the picture. Chris Young/The State Journal-Register.

Update: wildlife refuges - and the rest of the federal government - to stay open for now

February 28, 2011 at 03:21 PM

National Wildlife Refuges spread along a 125-miles stretch of the Illinois River from Meredosia to Henry might have been closed to the public if the federal government had been shut down.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP)—The GOP-controlled House handily passed legislation Tuesday to cut the federal budget by $4 billion and avert a partial shutdown of the government for two weeks.

The measure was approved by a bipartisan 335-91 vote that came shortly after Democrats in the Senate said they would go along. The White House had sought a four-week or longer stopgap bill but that effort fizzled shortly after it began.

The measure the House passed buys time for more difficult talks on a longer-term measure. House Republicans last month approved a measure to cut $61 billion from agency operating budgets over the second half of the fiscal year that expires Sept. 30. That bill is strongly opposed by Democrats, and the White House promises a veto.

The $4 billion in cuts are some of the easiest for Congress to make, hitting accounts that President Barack Obama already has proposed eliminating and reaping some of the money saved by earlier moves by Republicans to ban lawmakers from “earmarking” pet projects back to their districts and states.

Yielding to the inevitable, Senate Democrats said they would go along. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters he expected the two-week bill to go to Obama for his signature within 48 hours.

Monday’s report:

Monday afternoon, Lee Albright, manager of the Illinois River National WIldlife and Fish Refuges based near Havana, was waiting to see what directives would come his way.

The complex includes more than 11,000 acres and is made up of four units including the Chautauqua, Emiquon, Meredosia National Wildlife Refuges and the Cameron-Billsbach Unit in Marshall County.

“I would expect it’s a possibility that the refuges within the complex would be closed to the public if there is a shutdown, but I don’t know that for certain, yet,” Albright said Monday afternoon.

The refuges are managed mostly for migratory birds including waterfowl and shorebirds. They are composed of backwater lakes, associated wetlands and some bottomland forest.