Science

During Shutdown, National Parks Are Not Doing Well

During Shutdown, National Parks Are Not Doing Well”

Officials at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado said they were closing restrooms and locking up trash bins in many locations.

Unlike previous government shutdowns, during which parks were closed, national parks are still open to visitors during the Trump administration's current shutdown - though they're barely operating.

"With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors", National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz told the publication in an email.

Visitors are streaming into the parks to take advantage of the free admission (after all, the visitors' centers are closed and there's no one around to collect entrance fees) and trashing the place once they're in there.

Visitor services are limited due to the lapse in federal appropriations.

On Wednesday, Joshua Tree was forced to close due to toilets reaching capacity, human waste in public areas, people driving off-road and "other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem", the National Park Service said in a statement.

"I live and recreate at this park and I want this land to be as great as can be for everyone visiting and that seems to be the same motivation for people volunteering", he says.

Yosemite National Park in California faces similar issues. As news outlets such as the Washington Post have reported, many of these same businesses are pitching in to complete the jobs the NPS and its contractors manage - as in picking up garbage, cleaning the bathrooms and keeping tabs on the park.

Trash begins to accumulate along the National Mall near the Washington Monument due to a partial shutdown of the federal government in Washington, D.C., December 24, 2018.

"Everyone loves the park".

There's been at least one reported incident of an injury in a national park during the shutdown. Volunteers try to dispose of garbage in the Park and clean toilet facilities that are still open.

"I want to extend a honest thanks to local businesses, volunteer groups and tribal members who have done their best to assist in picking up litter and helping maintain campgrounds", Smith said in a statement Monday.

But some are seizing on the shortage of park staffers to drive off road illegally and otherwise damage the park, as well as relieving themselves in the open.

"We're deeply concerned about the threat to park resources and to visitor safety with this park closure situation", Garder said in a phone interview Monday.

Yosemite National Park, too, has closed some of its campgrounds and public areas after being inundated with garbage and human poop.

Yosemite National Park in California also daces similar struggles.



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