Garbage, faeces take toll on U.S. national parks amid shutdown

Garbage, faeces take toll on U.S. national parks amid shutdown

Garbage, faeces take toll on U.S. national parks amid shutdown

Many parks have remained open, but have been severely understaffed.

"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 artifacts", John Garder, senior budget director of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, told AP. "We're concerned there'll be impacts to visitors' safety".

Escalating problems have prompted some parks, like Yosemite, to partially or fully close.

"It's impacted (our lives) for fun, but it's impacted people's livelihoods and people's jobs, and it's disappointing because, you know, is a wall really that important?" visiting Texan Lori Neblett said, referring to President Donald Trump's unwillingness to back off a demand for $5 billion for his long-promised border wall.

Officials say vault toilets on the site are reaching capacity. According to Purdy, she and others have been collecting garbage and cleaning the bathrooms out of the simple goodness of their hearts and love for the nation's parks. Among the closures are all nineteen Smithsonian museums in NY and Washington, DC, including the African American Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Air and Space Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and the National Zoo.

Towns like these across the US are financially dependent on businesses, from equipment rental services to, of course, locally-owned hotels and restaurants, most of which largely cater to national park visitors.

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National parks typically close up shop during a government shutdown because staff like rangers, campground attendants and maintenance workers are put on furlough, or unpaid leave.

Campgrounds at Southern California's Joshua Tree National park have been closed due to health and safety concerns.

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.

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

Some visitors have strung Christmas lights in the twisting Joshua trees, many of which are hundreds of years old. Park officials say without enough supervision, some visitors are off-roading illegally and otherwise damaging the park. Indeed, Joshua Tree is reportedly closing all campsites starting today. Visitors are encouraged to stop and use restroom facilities in the gateway communities before entering the park.

Visitors were allowing their dogs to run off-leash in an area rich with bears and other wildlife, and scattering bags of garbage along the roads, Snider said.

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