Trash, Feces, Vandalism: How The Shutdown Is Impacting National Parks

Trash, Feces, Vandalism: How The Shutdown Is Impacting National Parks

Trash, Feces, Vandalism: How The Shutdown Is Impacting National Parks

Yosemite, the nation's third most-visited national park, remains open but various campgrounds, as well as snow play areas, are "closed due to human waste issues and lack of staffing", according to its website.

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.

John Garder, senior director of budget and appropriations at the National Parks Conservation Association, told ABC News that when park rangers aren't available to give basic safety information, visitors are less likely to be prepared.

The shutdown has also left a stinking mess at Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in eastern California.

David MacDonald, president and chief executive of Friends of Acadia, an independent nonprofit that works closely with Acadia National Park officials, said in terms of visitor impact, the park has been "faring better" than places out West.

California's Joshua Tree National Park on Wednesday will become the latest casualty of the federal government's partial shutdown, closing campgrounds amid health and safety concerns over near-capacity pit toilets.

But some are seizing on the shortage of park staffers to drive off road illegally and otherwise damage the park, as well as relieving themselves in the open. "Regardless of what happens in Washington, the Grand Canyon will not close on our watch", said Governor Doug Ducey in a press statement released a few days before the shutdown began. There were also reports of visitors dumping garbage bags from their cars in Yosemite.

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

Since December 22, the lack of funds has meant a total, not "partial" shutdown for most properties operated by the National Park Service (NPS). A skeleton crew of volunteers, tribal members and local businesses are trying to collect trash in the park and keep up with whatever maintenance they can. "It's really a nightmare scenario". But on Monday, feces and garbage were beginning to overwhelm Yosemite and other national parks. "There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules then I've seen in my four years living here". Only people with reservations for lodging or camping inside the park will be allowed entrance during peak visitation hours between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., park officials announced Wednesday.

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.

The tour companies can likely keep this system going through the entire winter season if they need to, Watt said. "But it's something we can handle".

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