National parks overflowing with poop because of government shutdown

National parks overflowing with poop because of government shutdown

Kenneth Drake
January 5, 2019

The National Park Service noted that the pit toilets were near capacity and human waste in public areas was becoming a problem, adding that illegal off-roading and other harmful actions were also causing damage to the park.

While the National Park Service wants parks to remain open and "as accessible as possible", parks across the country are closing individual campgrounds, roads or trails as they see fit, shuttering visitor centers and leaving limited or no staff on hand to explain the decisions to the public.

The budget director of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, John Garder, on Monday called that "a nightmare scenario" for human safety, wildlife and historic sites at national parks.

Additional facilities and areas may close within Yosemite National Park at any time for the health and safety of park visitors.

In addition, Another landmark in California, Joshua Tree National Park, said it will close all campgrounds in the park starting on January 2 as a result of " health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity", according to its website.

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

"I think it's really up to private citizens at this point to clean up", said Lara Christy, who is volunteering to clean up litter. "This is no reflection on their efforts and the park is very fortunate to have a community that exhibits the kind of care and concern witnessed over the last week".

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People are streaming into the parks, enjoying the free access, but they're finding trash cans overflowing and restrooms locked.

Unlike previous shutdowns, when parks were also closed, national parks remained open this time, though most park employees have been on furlough. Hikers at nearby Difficult Run, just outside the national park border, ignored a yellow police line that closed a trail.

"There are a lot of us who were concerned about so many people in the park and the lack of park service infrastructure", Yager explained. Joshua Tree said it would begin closing some campgrounds.

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

As the federal government enters the second full week of its partial shutdown, federal workers aren't the only ones affected.

"I chose to clean up this one section, because that's what Americans will do", said Snake, a 64-year-old member of the indigenous Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin. Farther south in California, conditions at Joshua Tree National Park and its delicate desert ecosystems are described as "deteriorating".

"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", Watt told The Associated Press. "But it's something we can handle". If necessary, could keep the tour provider the entire winter season.