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Federal workers back on the job throughout SD

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SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Federal workers returned to work across South Dakota after the 16-day partial government shutdown came to an end.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Park Ranger Mike Adams was one worker who was glad to see Congress approve the bipartisan measure ending the shutdown late Wednesday.

Adams was the lone worker during the shutdown at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives at Spearfish.

"Got kind of lonely here up by myself for 11 days," he told KOTA-TV. "Nobody to talk to but the fish."

President Barack Obama signed the measure early Thursday, ending a brawl with Republicans who tried to use the legislation to derail Obama's health care law and demand concessions on the budget.

Farm Service Agency offices also returned to business.

"After being gone for a few days, you get a little excited. I didn't sleep much (Wednesday) night worrying about all we had facing us" on Thursday, Minnehaha County FSA Director Larry Olsen told KELO-TV.

Black Hills National Forest officials are busy checking damage along roads and at recreation sites from an early October blizzard, according to the Rapid City Journal. National parks are getting back up to speed.

"We are excited and happy to be back at work and welcoming visitors to Wind Cave National Park," Superintendent Vidal Davila told KNBN-TV. "Autumn is a great time of year to see the park and its wildlife."

Steve Thede, the National Park Service's interim superintendent for the Missouri National Recreational River, headquartered in Yankton, said the first order of business Thursday was dismantling signs of the shutdown.

"We ended up getting rid of all those awful signs that were saying we were closed," he told the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan. "We also changed our voice mail messages that said we weren't open."

Not all federal facilities in South Dakota were closed during the shutdown that began Oct. 1. National Weather Service offices were staffed, and Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River continued operations. The Fish and Wildlife Service on Oct. 11 reopened some land in wildlife refuges to allow hunting of pheasants and waterfowl, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills reopened on Monday after the state and several corporate donors worked out a deal with the National Park Service.

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