The federal wildlife refuge that straddles the Iowa-Nebraska border is reopening next week after months of being closed due to damage caused by this year’s Missouri River flooding. Mindy Sheets, deputy manager at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, says they plan to start greeting visitors again right after the holiday weekend.

“We are going to reopen on January 2nd, just in time for ice fishing,” Sheets says. “Folks can come out and drive around the refuge and ice fish, if we have ice by then, and get the refuge back open again for public use.” Sheets says the bulk of the repairs are complete but a few key areas will have to remain off limits.

“The damage that is taking the longest is repairing the visitor’s center,” she says. “The basement was flooded and so the electrical down there, the heating and cooling, that kind of stuff, we’re still working on that. So, the visitor’s center won’t be open yet. We really don’t know when we will have it back open again.”

Sheets says the roads are ready for travelers and one hiking trail is open. She says the nearby Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge is still closed due to flood damage. She says, “Boyer suffered more damage especially to the roads system and so forth, so it will remain closed for right now until we can get more equipment and men over there to get it opened back up.”

The DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is located between Missouri Valley, Iowa, and Blair, Nebraska, on Highway 30.