Science

Trouble in the Smokies amid government shutdown

Trouble in the Smokies amid government shutdown

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. Unlike the last major shutdown that directly affected National Parks during the Obama Administration in 2013, most National Parks remain open, yet unstaffed, today.

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.

Yosemite National Park had to close two campgrounds and the popular Mariposa Grove of redwoods because of a buildup of human waste along the side of road, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The failure to pass a federal government funding bill has left 800,000 employees without pay and left parks, national monuments, museums and zoos relying on a skeleton staff and volunteers. Approximately 16,000 Park Service employees have been furloughed, and many attractions locally and nationally have been temporarily shuttered.

Overflowing toilets and illegal off-roading activities prompted the closure, the parks service said. Park officials say with restrooms overflowing, some visitors were relieving themselves along roadsides.

Yosemite National Park issued this visitor information: "National Park Service-provided information and orientation are not available".

The Grant Village will remain open, as will Highway 180 for through traffic to Princess Campground and Montecito Sequoia Lodge.

While parts of the national park were closed due to the partial government shutdown, much of the park's South Rim was open and accessible.

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Bureau officials note that news of trash problems on public lands and at Yosemite National Park has prompted a ramp up of their "Tuolumne County - Too Cool to Trash" campaign.

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.

Most trails are still open and even though the lots to the visitors center are clearly closed people have been moving cones or driving in the grass to get into the parking lots.

Snider said he saw the warning on the park's website that emergency services might be delayed due to the shutdown but went on a three-day camping trip anyway, telling Newsday, "I was just excited to come when the park was going to be less busy".

Mr Victor Jerez, 53, spent the day hiking in Joshua Tree with his brother, his sister and their families, though they were disappointed to find the visitor centre shut down.

At Joshua Tree National Park, in particular, conditions are deteriorating.

At a time when once again, the federal government is unable to act because of infighting and personal squabbles, corporations have an opportunity to step up while our political leaders continue to let us down.


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