Voyageurs National Park employees begin returning to work after shutdown ends

 	Brilliant fall colors highlight this aerial view of Lake Kabetogama, one of three large lakes that make up Voyageurs National Park. (Photo courtesy of Voyageurs National Park)

The Voyageurs National Park headquarters, in International Falls near the Canadian border, was open this morning for the first time since the shutdown. The LEED certified building, which opened in March 2011, felt a little empty as the rain came down outside.

About half of the facility’s 40 permanent employees arrived for work this morning. Federal workers had been asked to refrain from checking their work email during the shutdown, so letting everybody know it was over was a challenge.

“By Monday it will be like nothing happened,” said park superintendent Mike Ward. He said the nearby Rainy Lake Visitor Center will open Friday.

The shutdown of the headquarters was felt by downtown businesses like Coffee Landing, where park employees buy coffee and lunch, according to café co-owner Stephanie Heinle.

“I’m happy to be back,” said Ward.