Government Shutdown Forcing Closures at Joshua Tree National Park

Government Shutdown Forcing Closures at Joshua Tree National Park

Government Shutdown Forcing Closures at Joshua Tree National Park

US national parks are experiencing unsanitary campgrounds and littered landscapes due to the partial government shutdown. One of those agencies is the National Park Service, which according to their website, means "there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance for most parks".

But volunteer efforts can't supplant the work of the park service, said David Lamfrom, director of the California Desert and National Wildlife Programs of the National Parks Conservation Association.

In California, tourists have been relieving themselves on the side of the roads because Yosemite's restrooms and visitor centers have been shuttered since December 22 when the shutdown began, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The shutdown has also forced the closure of campgrounds at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California - where the dirty work is left to volunteers. The lack of staff is already taking its toll less than two weeks into the partial government shutdown, as reported by The Associated Press (AP).

If you feel the need to visit a park during the shutdown, there are responsible ways to do so.

"There [are] other parks that have just a gold mine of artifacts and resources that are basically unprotected right now, and I would hate to see those pieces of our history and heritage disappear during this shutdown".

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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. And in fairness, most visitors to the national parks have been respectful.

Travelers can still get into the park, though officials have announced they will be limiting access along the Highway 41 corridor during peak visitation hours. "We're concerned there'll be impacts to visitors' safety".

"It's impacted (our lives) for fun, but it's impacted people's livelihoods and people's jobs, and it's disappointing because, you know, is a wall really that important?" visiting Texan Lori Neblett said, referring to President Donald Trump's unwillingness to back off a demand for $5 billion for his long-promised border wall.

In other parks, though, there doesn't seem to be such an organized group of helpers, and it sounds like visitors are treating national parks like their own personal Lord of the Flies-style anything-goes free-for-all.

And at Yosemite, visitors were allowing their dogs to run off-leash and leaving bags of trash along the roads, Snider said.

Additionally, Lost Horse Mine Road and Rattlesnake Canyon are closed effective immediately. Those guides are splitting the cost of grooming the trails used by their vehicles to keep their operations going, said Travis Watt, general manager of See Yellowstone Alpen Guides based in West Yellowstone, Montana. "But it's something we can handle".

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