m3n4.net March 23, 2019

Shutdown restricting visits, cleaning at national parks

05 January 2019, 12:31 | Brenda Erickson

Human waste, rubbish overwhelm some US national parks in shutdown

Shutdown National Parks

Many National Parks have resorted to partial road closures to help curtail the number of users entering remote areas. Grand Canyon National Park, for example, is open because after the last such federal shutdown the state of Arizona appropriated some revenues so that services such as shuttles and restrooms can remain open.

Joshua Tree Superintendent David Smith, in a statement, thanked the "local businesses, volunteer groups, and tribal members" who have stepped up to collect trash and maintain grounds during the shutdown.

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.

Some iconic national parks in California, including Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park, have announced they are partially closed or have limited access during the holidays as a result of a lack of maintenance staff during the partial government shutdown. Visitors are also encouraged to practice leave no trace principles and please pack in and pack out all trash.

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.

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"The parks are being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns", the parks' public affairs officer Sintia Kawasaki-Yee said in a press release reported by USA Today.

However, signs citing the "lapse in federal appropriations" explain the complete closure and no staffing or even shoveling of snow.

And for those planning a visit there, Lost Horse Mine Road and Rattlesnake Canyon are also closed effective immediately.

Some National Parks are being overwhelmed by trash, vandalism, human feces and destructive off-roading while most personnel are gone during the government shutdown, according to reports from remaining workers and visitors.

The visitor center and museum at Yosemite have closed, and emergency response times may increase during the shutdown, officials said.

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Where victims were found, yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead. It said most victims were Indonesian tourists visiting beaches during the long weekend ahead of Christmas.

"At the superintendent's discretion, parks may close grounds/areas with sensitive natural, cultural, historic, or archaeological resources vulnerable to destruction, looting, or other damage that can not be adequately protected by the excepted law enforcement staff that remain on duty", he said.

"It's not the first time that it's happened, so I kind of know how it goes, but it's a bummer, right?" said Mary Durant of Washington, who took her two children to the park but didn't get a chance to show them the falls.

Garder said the NPCA is monitoring the situation and seeing trends that visitors in the parks are disregarding rules about keeping dogs on leashes, prohibitions on drones and restrictions on where to camp, all of which can harm or disrupt the natural environment or wildlife in the area.

At a time when once again, the federal government is unable to act because of infighting and personal squabbles, corporations have an opportunity to step up while our political leaders continue to let us down. "It's a lovely time of year to visit the park now".

Meanwhile, parks around the country, from national monuments in Washington to Lake Mead in Nevada have suffered the same fate, leaving city government to clean up the mess.

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