HEARTLAND FLOOD: Wildlife refuge unable to open to visitors due to flooding

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MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (WOWT) - The Desoto National Wildlife Refuge was yet another victim of March flooding, and the park remains closed as much of it is still under water.

The park was closed at the beginning of the year from the partial government shutdown. Now, those rangers that were unable to work are back at the park, but the visitors aren't.

April 15 is normally the day the wildlife refuge opens its gates for visiting season, and spring is normally a busy season.

"We'll recover and we'll be fine. It just takes time," park ranger Peter Rea said.

Only time will tell when that recovery will come as park rangers work to repair the preserve.

"For about a little over two weeks the visitor's center and most of the refuge was kind of an island in the floodwater," Rea explained. "We've got a road out going to the visitor's center, we've got another road out a little bit south of here that prevents access."

Pictures show the pool of water flowing around the visitor's center, destroying a 12-foot chunk of pavement leading to the park's front door.

"The water was kind of flowing across and then just cutting in there," Rea said.

Another block of the road was wiped out in mere minutes.

"This one here, there was a culvert here so it just 'pshoo,' blew out," Rea said.

Birds perched in their habitats will go unwatched as visitors are forced to stay out the park.

Ranger Rea is optimistic the refuge will reopen before spring ends.

"We're here for wildlife but we're also here for people to enjoy it. We've just got to make sure that we have safe and accessible areas for people to enjoy," he said.

Rea said maintenance workers from the regional fish and wildlife service will help build temporary roadways, and if everything goes as planned they could open in the next month.