National parks dealing with vandals, human waste in shutdown

Pablo Tucker
January 3, 2019

"There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules then I've seen in my four years living here".

"The community has been galvanized, we will last longer than the government shutdown", he says.

But for other national parks, its a different story. Many others, though, have remained open, but all but a skeleton staff have been furloughed. Also the safety of visitors could be at risk. It also doesn't help that the trouble has arrived just in time for peak tourist season when many families are heading out to the national parks on holiday. "It's really a nightmare scenario".

"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.

While tourists and locals may be frustrated by the dwindling number of cultural organizations that are able to remain open as politicians work toward a comprise, there still are a few institutions welcoming visitors.


Pinnacles National Park, also in California, closed its eastern gate because of trash and heavy traffic, reported The Salinas Californian. In Sequoia, home to huge and ancient giant sequoias, General Highway was closed because overflowing trash bins were spreading litter and posed a threat to wildlife and the icy, jammed roadway was seeing up to three-hour delays, according to the National Park Service.

With no sign of the government shutdown ending, American national parks are left severely understaffed and uncleaned.

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

Since the shutdown began on December 22, there has been no "National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance", according to the park's website.

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


Christopher Reynolds at the Los Angeles Times reports that volunteers have been threatened when they notify visitors their activities are illegal, like littering, starting fires or stringing Christmas lights in the very old, delicate Joshua trees, which are normally protected.

Most visitors were being respectful of the desert wilderness and park facilities, Joshua Tree's superintendent David Smith said.

Kristen Brengel, vice president of government affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association, told CNN that the absence of supervision seems to have created a sense of "lawlessness" among the parks' visitors.

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


Other reports by iNewsToday

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