Despite shutdown, EfMo trails remain busy

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Even though the Effigy Mounds visitor center has been closed during the federal government shutdown, the park’s trails have remained accessible. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Since the partial federal government shutdown began Dec. 22, the visitor center at Effigy Mounds National Monument has been visitor-less. Nice weather has kept the park’s many trails busy, though, especially on the weekends. 

In a Facebook post at the start of the shutdown, Effigy Mounds noted the hiking trails within the park would remain accessible. “However, access may change without notice, and there are no NPS-provided services,” the post added.

While other National Park Service sites, also manned by few or no staff members, have reported issues with visitors littering, disobeying rules and straying from marked trails, it appears Effigy Mounds hasn’t experienced the same problems. One hiker said fellow visitors—some of whom were from out of state—were respecting the park, sticking to the trails and properly disposing of any trash.

If the shutdown doesn’t end soon, however, the visitor center closure would disrupt the Effigy Mounds Winter Film Festival. Cancelled last year due to a failed septic system at the visitor center, Effigy Mounds said the annual event would return in 2019. The detailed schedule of films was set to be released this week, and the film festival was slated to begin Friday, Jan. 18. 

Effigy Mounds planned for the Winter Film Festival to run for seven weekends from Jan. 18 to March 4. Two showings were to be held each Friday through Monday, one in the morning from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and another in the afternoon from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

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