Government Shutdown Forcing Closures at Joshua Tree National Park

Minnie Murray
January 3, 2019

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Hetch Hetchy, Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow Campgrounds, and all snow play areas were also closed.

One resident told the Associated Press, "There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules than I've seen in my four years living here".

But for many national parks, the outcome of this shutdown could turn ugly as this spit-spat drags on - especially if the White House and the newly elected Congress, now with a Democratic-majority House, continue to dig in their heels.

"We're afraid that we're going to start seeing significant damage to the natural resources in parks and potentially to historic and other cultural artefacts", John Garder, senior budget director of the National Parks Conservation Association, said. Also the safety of visitors could be at risk.

Trash begins to accumulate along the National Mall near the Washington Monument due to a partial shutdown of the federal government. "A nightmare scenario", he says.

While there are few employees at the parks to enforce regulations, admissions have also surged because no one is collecting admission fees, the Huffington Post reported.

A trash can overflows as people site outside of the Martin Luther King Jr.

This week, more than 25 percent of federal government employees are working without a paycheck or not working at all, leaving national parks, including Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite National Park, with limited staff to clean facilities, CNN reported.

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. He was spending his days standing outside his store, offering tips about the park in place of the rangers who normally would be present. "Everyone loves the Park".

Travelers can still get into the park, though officials have announced they will be limiting access along the Highway 41 corridor during peak visitation hours.

The Los Angeles Times reports the National Parks Service is warning of a threat to health at Yosemite National Park.

And Joshua Tree isn't alone in its issues, or its decision to close campgrounds.

Park rangers were screening vehicles at the South Entrance, allowing only visitors with reservations for lodging or camping inside the park.

For a number of national parks, this is becoming a Problem. Joshua Tree rock-climber, 54-year-old Marine Corps veteran and paraplegic Rand Abbott told the Times that he went through 500 rolls of toilet paper while restocking park toilets on the first full day of the shutdown, and has been giving out trash bags to people - totaling at least 60 hours at the time of reporting on December 26.

Visitors are urged to use restrooms in gateway communities before entering the park.

Contractors who operate tours in Yellowstone National Park are grooming trails, hauling garbage, and filling restrooms with toilet paper in an effort to keep their businesses open. Because in the Winter nearly all the roads within the Park are closed, can attractions most of the visitors like the Grand Canyon only with the help of Guides to visit.

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