During Shutdown, National Parks Are Not Doing Well


Feltges and other business owners around Joshua Tree had stepped into the gap as much as possible, hauling trailers into the park to empty overflowing trash bins and sweeping and stocking restrooms that were still open, Feltges said.

Arches National Park officials said on December 22, the day the shutdown began, that some parts of the park would remain accessible; however, access may change without notice.

Other parks have also said they will have to close areas or limit access to ensure visitor safety. "Keys View Road is also closed, effective immediately", park officials said in a statement.

Campsites at Yosemite National Park have been closed after 27 tons of rubbish built up and lavatory facilities were overwhelmed during the partial shutdown.

But for many national parks, the outcome of this shutdown could turn ugly as this spit-spat drags on - especially if the White House and the newly elected Congress, now with a Democratic-majority House, continue to dig in their heels. 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.

Reynolds said one thing in particular that people who walk along the trails and beaches should be mindful of is taking pet waste along with them after heading out of the park.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced on January 2 that it will be "fully closed" from 6 p.m. local time due to unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and will likely remain closed for the duration of the government shutdown. In Utah, protected areas have been closed because of the snow is not cleared.

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On the Yosemite Twitter account on Sunday, officials said a "lack of the restrooms and resulting impacts from human waste" forced the closure of the campgrounds. Access to the park will not occur until conditions improve or the National Park Service receives funding to maintain the roads.

"The whole community has come together", Mr Feltges said.

Joshua Tree is expected to begin closing some campgrounds for all but day use.

Yosemite remained partially open, limiting visitor numbers, but the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, also in California, were shut and campsites were closed at Joshua Tree.

Additional closures include Lost Horse Mine Road due to illegal activity and Rattlesnake Canyon in order to reduce the number of search-and-rescue events for rangers already spread thin due to the government shutdown. "Those memories aren't going to happen this year", Cashman said.

And, of course, on top of all of this, there are the federal workers who aren't even guaranteed back pay when the shutdown eventually ends, whenever that may be. Murdock is the director of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, a nonprofit that supports RMNP and has set up a makeshift visitor center on private land outside the park.