National parks dealing with vandals, human waste in shutdown

National parks dealing with vandals, human waste in shutdown

President Donald Trump's demand for money for a border wall with Mexico has been the sticking point in passing funding bills for several government departments.

Meanwhile, some 800,000 government workers are either furloughed or working without pay until the shutdown ends.

Unlike in some previous government shutdowns, many national parks have remained open, though without staff to collect rubbish and service restrooms. Also the safety of visitors could be at risk.

Lamfrom said he's encouraging people to stay away from the parks during the shutdown but added that it's wrong to blame visitors for damage when there's little or no enforcement of rules.

"The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity", the park service said in a statement.

The Associated Press reported that human feces, overflowing garbage and illegal off-roading were beginning to overwhelm some sites.

Handwritten signs urged visitors: "Pack out your trash".

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

All Smithsonian Institution properties are closed
All Smithsonian Institution properties are closed Credit Getty

Joshua Tree park officials said that all campgrounds would close at noon on January 2 due to health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity. Memorial by the Tidal Basin, in Washington.

Volunteers and nonprofit groups like Friends of Joshua Tree National Park are stepping in to help but can't make up for everything that would normally be done. "The community holds together", says Ethan Feltges, who runs a Souvenir Shop in the vicinity, and a toilet cabin in front of it.

"The local community has come together really well, even people visiting from out of town have made a decision to join after seeing our efforts on social media".

Picking up the trash is about more than keeping the park clean, Ellis anxious it could be unsafe if a pile of trash attracts bears. "And there's a lot of businesses that actually need the park". Joshua Tree said it would begin closing some campgrounds for all but day use.

"People are doing it because we love this place and we know how trashed it'll get if we don't", she said.

Other national parks suffering because of the shutdown are Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, which had to close their restrooms and trash bins due to overflowing.

In Death Valley National Park, employees of The Oasis at Death Valley, a private resort inside the park, have joined other concessionaires in picking up trash and cleaning bathrooms, said Trey Matheu, general manager of the resort. The park and battlefield site is typically closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

"I guess we take it for granted nearly, these handsome places that we have and we never thought we'd have to prepare for it (the shutdown)", he said.

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