The biggest victim of the ongoing US government shutdown is likely the country’s national parks. Due to a lack of rangers and other employees to maintain the grounds, parks are overflowing with trash and feces. On Wednesday, it got so bad in Joshua Tree National Park that the park temporarily closed its campgrounds due to health and safety concerns attributed to overflowing toilets.
Yosemite National Park has experienced similar issues, with over-capacity toilets forcing the closure of campgrounds and snow play areas on Sunday. Along Generals Highway, which runs through Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, excess trash caused the road to shut down, and even Washington DC’s National Mall has become littered with garbage.
#governmentshutdown #shutdown Quick pic on my bike ride in. That’s the White House in the background. The National Park can’t empty trash cans next to the Washington Monument. pic.twitter.com/qC93aPVkq5
— Nick Schwellenbach (@schwellenbach) 2 janvier 2019
National parks have endured government shutdowns before, but previously parks had been closed to visitors. This time around, the Trump administration has decided to allow limited visitor access to many parks, even though they’re understaffed to clean up after those visitors. The result is overflowing trash cans, discarded tents and sleds, and stopped-up toilets.
Piles of broken sleds, smoldering fires left unattended, overflowing bathrooms. This is what I saw today at @USFSLassen‘s Eskimo Pass snow play area. Booze everywhere in spite of the many neon “alcohol prohibited” signs. Shameful disregard for our #publiclands. #ShutdownStories pic.twitter.com/5g7OzMCVrg
— Public Land Lover (@publiclandlvr) 31 décembre 2018
At Joshua Tree, volunteers have stepped in to help clear some of the mess. In DC, the Department of Public Works is even taking over cleanup from the National Park Service.
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If you do decide to visit a national park during the shutdown, bring your own trash home, clean up after yourself, and don’t make the problem worse.
H/T: Business Insider