Trash, Feces, Vandalism: How The Shutdown Is Impacting National Parks

As government shutdown continues human waste on Yosemite's roadsides prompt park closures

Some national parks have taken a hit amid the USA government shutdown: They've remained open, though severely understaffed, leading to public health concerns like overflowing toilets. (Too bad Ansel Adams isn't around to photograph that, eh?) As National Park Service employees are part of the many furloughed federal employees, park services like clearing icy and snow-covered roads, cleaning restrooms, maintaining paths, and keeping visitors safe and informed are not working.

And these are some of the busiest days of the year for national parks, as there was an estimated 284,398 visitors at Joshua Tree during the second half of December in 2017.

The makeshift toilet situation has forced two campgrounds to close due to the "health hazard" it creates, National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz told the Times.

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

The visitor center and museum at Yosemite are closed and emergency response times may increase during the shutdown.

"There [are] other parks that have just a gold mine of artifacts and resources that are basically unprotected right now, and I would hate to see those pieces of our history and heritage disappear during this shutdown".

At Acadia National Park in ME, restroom use and trash collection have come to a halt because of the shutdown, which was caused by an impasse over President Trump's border wall proposal. It has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds to keep parks running smoothly, the Visalia Times Delta reported.

But that's not stopping visitors from coming. "We're concerned there'll be impacts to visitors' safety".

"It's really a nightmare scenario, " Garder said.

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

"The Generals Highway is closed at Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park".

Yosemite Valley resident Dakota Snider said crowds were driving into the park to take advantage of free admission. Joshua Tree said it would begin closing some campgrounds for all but day use.

"People are walking off trails, bringing their dogs", David Lamfrom, director of the California Desert and National Wildlife Programs of the National Parks Conservation Association tells CNN.

Rattlesnake Canyon will close to reduce the number of search and rescue events for rangers already spread thin because of the shutdown, the park service said.

"It's definitely not our preference - the park service does a good job doing their thing and we hate to see them out of work", Travis Watt, general manager of See Yellowstone Alpen Guides based in West Yellowstone, Montana, told the AP.

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