Overflowing Toilets Force Joshua Tree to Close Amid Government Shutdown
03 January, 2019, 07:11 | Author: Emmett Rice
Human faeces, overflowing garbage and illegal off-road driving in fragile areas were beginning to overwhelm some of the iconic national parks in the U.S., where a partial government shutdown left areas open to visitors but few staff on duty.
Many travelers have changed their plans, and the results could mean an economic hit for the small towns adjacent to many of these national parks - including Mariposa, CA (population 2,200 and a gateway to Yosemite); Beatty, NV (population 1,000 and home to some of the hotels closest to Death Valley National Park); and Twentynine Palms, CA (population 25,000, on the north edge of Joshua Tree).
Joshua Tree National Park in southern California, which sees the majority of its visitors this time of year, announced that it will shut its popular campgrounds today due to poor sanitary conditions, report Ray Sanchez and Chris Boyette at CNN. It is unclear how long the shutdown will last and whether the National Park Service will opt to close some or all of the parks if the situation continues. All park visitor centers are also closed.
He's also been trying to talk visitors out of illegal fires, illegal parking, littering and other forbidden activities.
Unlike some previous government shutdowns, in which national parks closed entirely, gates have remained opened under the Trump administration, though parks are severely understaffed.
Some visitors have strung Christmas lights in the twisting Joshua trees, many of which are hundreds of years old, the Los Angeles Times reported. And in fairness, most visitors to the national parks have been respectful. "And there are many companies that are of the national Park".
John Garder: "We really commend the volunteers who've been helping to try to take care of parks and make sure that visitors have a safe and enjoyable time".
"You're looking at Yosemite Falls and in front of you is plastic bottles and trash bags, " he said.
But for other national parks, its a different story.
While many parks have stayed open during the shutdown, with some emergency workers and rangers still working, much of the parks' staff are not, meaning there is no one to clean bathrooms, empty the trash, enforce rules or collect entrance fees.
And Joshua Tree isn't alone in its issues, or its decision to close campgrounds. Because in the Winter nearly all the roads within the Park are closed, can attractions most of the visitors like the Grand Canyon only with the help of Guides to visit.
They had unleashed their dogs and let then run freely in an area rich with bears and other wildlife, and were scattering bags of garbage along the roads, Mr Snider said. Those guides are splitting the cost of grooming the trails used by their vehicles to keep their operations going, said Travis Watt, general manager of See Yellowstone Alpen Guides based in West Yellowstone, Montana. "But we can handle it".
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