During Shutdown, National Parks Are Not Doing Well

Human waste, rubbish overwhelm some US national parks in shutdown

Federal agencies such as the National Archives, the US Commission of Fine Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities have been closed since the shutdown began on December 22, when President Trump refused to pass the federal budget.

The national park service says Joshua Tree will remain accessible, but visitors will be entering at their own risk, as the service can't fully staff its properties.

Due to this, the updated closure list includes Wawona Campground, Hodgen Meadow Campground, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Crane Flat Snow Play Area and Goat Meadow Snow Play Area. Volunteers and "essential staff" are doing their best to keep the park services running along, but it's led to filthy restroom facilities without toilet paper and tourists relieving themselves along the side of the road, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Joshua Tree National Park was forced to shut on Wednesday due to health and safety concerns from their "overflowing toilets", while parts of Yosemite National Park are closed to the public due to "human waste issues and lack of staffing". Previous administrations have closed the parks during shutdowns, The Associated Press reported. This time around, however, the U.S. Department of the Interior opted to keep the parks open to visitors.

"At the superintendent's discretion, parks may close grounds/areas with sensitive natural, cultural, historic, or archaeological resources vulnerable to destruction, looting, or other damage that can not be adequately protected by the excepted law enforcement staff that remain on duty, " Barnum said.

National parks typically close up shop during a government shutdown because staff like rangers, campground attendants and maintenance workers are put on furlough, or unpaid leave.

For more information on US national parks partial closures, visit the National Park Service's Twitter account here. - The park remains open, but visitor services are not being provided. "We're concerned there'll be impacts to visitors' safety".

Yosemite National Park is open and free because there are no rangers to collect entry fees. "A nightmare scenario", he says. But on Monday, feces and garbage were beginning to overwhelm Yosemite and other national parks. Indeed, Joshua Tree is reportedly closing all campsites starting today.

"People are walking off trails, bringing their dogs", David Lamfrom, director of the California Desert and National Wildlife Programs of the National Parks Conservation Association tells CNN.

At some parks, private companies have jumped in to handle some the maintenance normally handled by federal employees.

Almost all roads inside Yellowstone are normally closed for winter, meaning most visitors at this time of the year access park attractions like Old Faithful or the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone through guides. "Once conditions go downhill, they will be hard to restore", writes Purdy.

"This is not really our job", says Travis Watt of lake Yellowstone Alpen Guides, "the Park authority usually does a good Job, and we hate to see the employees without a job".

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