National parks overflowing with poop because of government shutdown

Human waste, rubbish overwhelm some US national parks in shutdown

National parks overflowing with poop because of government shutdown

Some national parks have taken a hit amid the US government shutdown: They've remained open, though severely understaffed, leading to public health concerns like overflowing toilets.

The federal government shutdown began December 22 in a dispute between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for Trump's proposed wall along the U.S. -Mexico border, USA Today reported.

Visitors to Joshua Tree National Park may want to re-think their plans this week as the park will close down all of its campgrounds on January 2 due to the government shutdown.

They have been emptying overflowing bins and sweeping and stocking restrooms that remained open.

"It's not quite "Lord of the Flies" yet", said Bryan Min, 30, who traveled to Joshua Tree with friends from Orange County and are camping outside the park. "Everyone loves the Park". The winter holiday season is a busy time here and important for local businesses, and some people are grateful that the park hasn't blocked access this time, said Kenji Haroutunian, president of Friends of Joshua Tree, a nonprofit local climbing organization.

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Christopher Reynolds at the Los Angeles Times reports that volunteers have been threatened when they notify visitors their activities are illegal, like littering, starting fires or stringing Christmas lights in the very old, delicate Joshua trees, which are normally protected.

While bathrooms are closed and trash receptacles have been pulled indoors because there's no one on duty to empty them, Leslie Reynolds, chief ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is part of the National Park Service, said Wednesday that there have been no major issues reported along the vast park space - and she'd like to keep it that way. Indian Cove and Black Rock campgrounds will be open for day-use only, sunrise to sunset.

However, as developing stories from Yosemite, Death Valley, Rocky Mountain (RMNP), and Joshua Tree National Parks are showing, that lack of staffing is presenting a major problem: visitors leave waste (both human and material), and there is no one around to get rid of it.

But that's not stopping visitors from coming.

"It's a free-for-all", Dakota Snider, who lives and works in Yosemite, tells the AP.

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Cathy Smedberg, of Herndon, Va., who brought her three children to Great Falls Park in Virginia yesterday, said she was confused when she tried to enter the main entrance but found it partially barricaded, with three orange and white barrels that extended halfway across the road. "You look at the Yosemite waterfalls, and prior to that, water bottles and trash bags pile up".

"We're deeply concerned about the threat to park resources and to visitor safety with this park closure situation", Garder said in a phone interview Monday.

Lamfrom said he's encouraging people to stay away from the parks during the shutdown but added that it's wrong to blame visitors for damage when there's little or no enforcement of rules.

National Park Service spokesman Andrew Munoz said trash heaps left at campsites attract bears which increases the chance of a deadly encounter with campers.

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