Corporations Should Step Up to Save Our National Parks

Trash begins to accumulate along the National Mall near the Washington Monument due to a partial shutdown of the federal government

Campers at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California's deserts were reporting squabbles as different families laid claims to sites, with no rangers on hand to adjudicate, said Ethan Feltges, who operates the Coyote Corner gift shop outside Joshua Tree.

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Hetch Hetchy, Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow Campgrounds, and all snow play areas were also closed.

Handwritten signs urged visitors: "Pack out your trash". Yosemite Valley's lodgings, restaurants, ski area at Badger Pass and the park shuttle remain open.

This photo shows a road lined with trash in yosemite National Park.

Of the many people and institutions being hurt by the ongoing government shutdown, the National Park Service is taking a hard hit.

"It's really a nightmare scenario", added Garder. The Smithsonian, the National Gallery and National Zoo are all closed because of the shutdown.

President Trump has said he's "ready" to negotiate over the government shutdown, but until then, it looks like national parks are becoming a Wild West of trash and feces.

Joshua Tree is expected to begin closing some campgrounds for all but day use. Volunteers who had been trying to keep the park open simply can't keep up, the publication reported.

A trash can overflows as people site outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial by the Tidal Basin in Washington
JACQUELYN MARTIN APA trash can overflows as people site outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial by the Tidal Basin in Washington

Other national parks suffering because of the shutdown are Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, which had to close their restrooms and trash bins due to overflowing.

According to the National Park Service, the Joshua Tree will remain accessible but visitors will have to enter at their own risk as the area isn't fully staffed.

In Joshua Tree, dozens of volunteers have come together to try to maintain the park. As news outlets such as the Washington Post have reported, many of these same businesses are pitching in to complete the jobs the NPS and its contractors manage - as in picking up garbage, cleaning the bathrooms and keeping tabs on the park.

The park has experienced vandalism to buildings, while illegal camping and off-roading have damaged the park habitat, National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz said.

Trash begins to accumulate along the National Mall near the Washington Monument due to a partial shutdown of the federal government in Washington, D.C., December 24, 2018.

"People are bringing in dogs and drones, and there are instances where people aren't following the rules, and it is not good for the wildlife and the environment", she said. "You look at the Yosemite waterfalls, and prior to that, water bottles and trash bags pile up".

At some parks, private companies have jumped in to handle some the maintenance normally handled by federal employees. The contractors that operate park tours by snowmobile, buses and vans are grooming trails, hauling trash and replacing toilet paper at pit toilets and restrooms along their routes. But still, they can't keep going forever.

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