National parks dealing with vandals, human waste in shutdown

"We can't afford to wipe all the bottoms who visit Joshua Tree". "Who knows how it'll be tonight".

US national parks are experiencing unsanitary campgrounds and littered landscapes due to the partial government shutdown.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be fully closed effective 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 2.

But for other national parks, its a different story.

Unlike some previous government shutdowns, in which national parks closed entirely, gates have remained opened under the Trump administration, though parks are severely understaffed. All park visitor centers remain closed. Approximately 16,000 Park Service employees have been furloughed, and many attractions locally and nationally have been temporarily shuttered. Because of the lapse of funding the National Park Service is unable to provide services, including plowing of roads.

Picking up the trash is about more than keeping the park clean, Ellis anxious it could be risky if a pile of trash attracts bears.

In Yoshua Tree national Park in California the camping sites close, because there was bickering and not simply ends Ranger.

Some advocates for the parks aren't happy about this situation, fearing that visitors will do permanent damage to the parks and potentially disrupt fragile ecosystems.

"The parks are supposed to be heritage sites for generation after generation".

Mr Victor Jerez, 53, spent the day hiking in Joshua Tree with his brother, his sister and their families, though they were disappointed to find the visitor centre shut down.

The L.A. Times spoke with Joshua Tree local Joe De Luca who told them, "It's a free-for-all in there".

Park officials said the area has been impacted by littering and excessive trash, which could be harmful to the wildlife. The border wall dispute, he said, "is not a priority that deserves to close down the government".


Yosemite Valley resident Dakota Snider said crowds were driving into the park to take advantage of free admission.

Instead, Mr Feltges said he and other business owners had stepped into the gap as much as possible.

The National Archives is closed as a partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. "We can't make decisions, we layoff employees, we take cancellations", he said.

Also closed was the Grant Tree Trail, a popular hiking spot, because the government shutdown stopped maintenance and left the path dangerously slick from ice and snow, with at least one injury reported, the park service said.

"It has been awful".

"It would have been nice to have some trail maps and to get some recommendations from the staff", said Mr Jerez, who was visiting from Europe, where he splits his time between Barcelona and London. "Nothing! Nobody will ever hear us".

He explained that he's seen several groups picking up trash in the last several days, and his group alone often consists of 20 to 30 people. "We're in it for the long haul", he vowed.

While national parks are hard hit during the government shutdown, dozens of volunteers are spending hours tidying and maintaining the protected grounds.

If you are seeing effects of the shutdown in your life, work or travel, we want to hear your story.

Outside his Coyote Corner gift shop, Mr Feltges had set up a portable toilet for the visitors still streaming in and out of the park.

"I'm the only person that's working in my household and paying all the bills", she said.


Popular

CONNECT