The government shutdown may be over, but its negative effects will still be felt for some time. The first order of business for park employees returning to work is addressing issues caused by illegal camping, off-roading, littering, and overflowing bathrooms that happened while the park was understaffed during the past 35 days. The situation is particularly dire at Joshua Tree National Park, where a Joshua tree was inexplicably chopped down by visitors.
I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, what’s going on at Joshua Tree National Park is a travesty to this nation. True Americans don’t destroy and trash our National Parks just because no one’s looking., only thugs and criminals do. https://t.co/KdWMCwXQZi pic.twitter.com/obhSgVf9N7
— AI6YR (@ai6yrham) January 10, 2019
Curt Sauer, retired Joshua Tree park ranger, told the Desert Sun, “What’s happened to our park in the last 35 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years.” Ray Roberts, a Joshua Tree resident, added, “There is graffiti all over the place.” John Lauretig, executive director of the Friends of Joshua Tree nonprofit, told the Desert Sun that the community is “fed up with our parks being held hostage and the fact that it’s open and partially staffed is not good for the park…we want the government to operate appropriately, fund the parks appropriately.”
Now that the shutdown is over, parks will slowly begin returning to normalcy, but for Joshua Tree National Park and others that were more severely affected, the recovery process will be particularly slow and painful.