Government Shutdown Has Left National Parks Overrun With Garbage And Poop

Calgary Zoo Pandas
Calgary Zoo Pandas

05 January, 2019

As the government shutdown entered its 13th day, key Democrats accused the Trump administration of ramping up the danger and confusion at national parks by closing some while allowing a lot of them to stay open.

Unlike in some previous government shutdowns, many national parks have remained open, though without staff to collect rubbish and service restrooms.

The shutdown has also left a stinking mess at Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in eastern California. "For most parks, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance".

Campgrounds at Southern California's Joshua Tree National park have been closed due to health and safety concerns.

"It is unknown how long the road will be closed", park officials said on New Year's Eve.

"It's really a nightmare scenario", added Garder.

"The whole community has come together", Feltges said.

Reynolds said one thing in particular that people who walk along the trails and beaches should be mindful of is taking pet waste along with them after heading out of the park.

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The parks are being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns.

This time around, as President Donald Trump holds his finger on the pause button of government while he digs in to get funding for his vague border-wall scheme, many national parks are still technically open.

The shutdown plan does give park superintendents the power to close down certain sites or areas if garbage or other problems pose too great a danger to humans or wildlife, National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum told The Associated Press by email. While many local users have offered to assist in cleaning up the park by cleaning bathrooms and removing trash, they are strongly discouraged from doing so.

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.

"The Generals Highway is closed at Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park. Absolutely ridiculous." He then informed the Times of breakdowns in the campground reservation system, illegal camping practices and visitors stringing Christmas lights from delicate Joshua trees that they are supposed to leave untouched.

And, of course, on top of all of this, there are the federal workers who aren't even guaranteed back pay when the shutdown eventually ends, whenever that may be.

"I made a decision to clean up this one section, because that's what Americans will do", said Snake, a 64-year-old member of the indigenous Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin.

Volunteers and nonprofit groups like Friends of Joshua Tree National Park are stepping in to help but can't make up for everything that would normally be done. But still, they can't keep going forever. "But it's something we can handle".

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