Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

National parks face overflowing trash, toilets in second week of shutdown

Human waste, rubbish overwhelm some US national parks in shutdown Overflowing garbage, feces on roads prompt Yosemite National Park officials to close some campgrounds
Leonard Rios | 03 January, 2019, 07:09

Overflowing garbage cans, human feces, and illegal off-roading are just a few of the problems plaguing some national parks where visitors are taking advantage of the lack of supervision during the partial government shutdown.

Many national parks remain open but with skeleton staffs.

"Areas within the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park are also closed".

In California, tourists have been relieving themselves on the side of the roads because Yosemite's restrooms and visitor centers have been shuttered since December 22 when the shutdown began, the Los Angeles Times reported.

California's Joshua Tree National Park on Wednesday becomes the latest casualty of the federal government's partial shutdown, with campgrounds closing due to health and safety concerns over near-capacity pit toilets. Tour operator otherwise bring visitors with snow mobile, buses, and Vans in the Park, clean ways to dispose of waste and replenish toilet paper in the facilities.

"It's a free-for-all", said Dakota Snider, 24, a Yosemite Valley resident, reported The Associated Press. Lauretig has been to the park at least a dozen times in the past 10 days, and while it is in "OK" condition, he says the longer the shutdown continues, "the more the park needs its real maintenance people in there to do their jobs".

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The shutdown has also prevented the park service from making staff available to "provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response", the department said.

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. Approximately 16,000 Park Service employees have been furloughed, and many attractions locally and nationally have been temporarily shuttered.

Most visitors were being respectful of the desert wilderness and park facilities, Joshua Tree's superintendent, David Smith, said in a statement. Although, there will be no park rangers on staff to enforce the closures - so all they can do is close designated camping areas and restrooms. Joshua Tree said it would begin closing some campgrounds for all but day use.

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.

In addition, there is now very limited access to the park during peak hours via the Highway 41 entrance.

Rattlesnake Canyon will close to reduce the number of potential search-and-rescue events for rangers already spread thin because of the shutdown, the park service said. "But it's something we can handle".

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