Government Shutdown and the IAT

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Government Shutdown, National Park Service, Volunteers in the Park insurance program

Snow covered boardwalk along the Plover River Segment, Marathon County. Photo by Rachel Roberts.

First the Good News:

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail remains open for hiking, snowshoeing, running, and backpacking. Please continue to enjoy the Ice Age Trail and the activities which get you outside and bring you joy.

Now, for the Not-So Good News:

Even though the Ice Age Trail itself is not closed during the government shutdown, ALL VOLUNTEER-BASED activities are suspended.


Although the Ice Age Trail Alliance is largely funded by memberships, grant funds, and generous private and corporate donors, the insurance we carry for our volunteer activities is funded through the National Park Service, a federally funded organization. 

Consequently, any injuries or claims that may occur during this shutdown will not be covered the Volunteers in the Park insurance program.

What does this mean for YOU?

CANCELLED volunteer-led activities, for example, upcoming First Day hikes and Trail Improvement days which were already populating the January 2019 calendar. (Please check the on-line calendar and call or email the organizer to verify status of the event.)

SUSPENDED TRAIL ANGEL activities. Volunteers who could normally shuttle hikers from one spot to another on the Trail are encouraged to forgo this popular service. If anything should happen while shuttling a hiker, the accident or injury will no longer be covered by the Volunteers in the Park insurance program.

Since the Alliance has no enforcement policy with regard to any trail activities, we can only strongly advise cancelling any activities that involve volunteerism. Participation in any volunteer capacity is at your own risk and personal liability.

Official Notice from Eric Gabriel, National Park Service Superintendent for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail

In the case of a government lack of appropriations “a shutdown”, National Park Service (NPS) volunteers (VIPs) are not allowed to serve. VIPs are considered part of the workforce, representing the National Park Service, in support of our mission. During a shutdown the normal protections and liability coverages are suspended.

VIPs will follow the same schedule as furloughed NPS employees, and must follow the same restrictions as NPS employees. This includes not accessing closed federal buildings and not using any federal equipment or property, such as vehicles, computers or mobile phones, maintenance equipment, or educational props. VIPs may continue to stay in NPS housing and campgrounds at the discretion of park superintendents.

Individuals or groups wishing to volunteer for park partners who are active during the government shutdown must sign up separately as a volunteer(s) for that partner and be covered by insurance and human resource policies of that partner. In the case of a volunteer enlisting to serve with a partner, the volunteer must also wear whatever uniforrn is prescribed by the partner, but may not wear the NPS VIP uniform in performance of these duties.