Overflowing toilets force closure at Joshua Tree Park

Overflowing toilets force closure at Joshua Tree Park

Overflowing toilets force closure at Joshua Tree Park

Trash cans within the many national parks as well as in spaces maintained by NPS across the country are overflowing and won't likely be emptied until the shutdown is over.

The more than 792,000 acres of the majestic park nestled between Palm Springs to the south and the town of Joshua Tree to the north, will remain open, although unstaffed, but the campgrounds will be officially closed.

But volunteer efforts can't supplant the work of the park service, said David Lamfrom, director of the California Desert and National Wildlife Programs of the National Parks Conservation Association.

Yosemite National Park, too, has closed some of its campgrounds and public areas after being inundated with garbage and human poop.

Joshua Tree National Park was forced to shut on Wednesday due to health and safety concerns from their "overflowing toilets", while parts of Yosemite National Park are closed to the public due to "human waste issues and lack of staffing".

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. Previous administrations have closed the parks during shutdowns, The Associated Press reported.

The Smithsonian Institution will close off its museums and the National Zoo on Wednesday because it has depleted its temporary funding.

Of course, the national parks aren't just vast expanses of nature in the Wild West, but also include sites like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (New York State is keeping them open) and the National Mall and the monuments in the backyard of Congress and the White House.


There's been at least one reported incident of an injury in a national park during the shutdown. Calley Cederlof at the Visalia Times-Delta reports that unsanitary conditions have led authorities to close areas of Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks.

But that's not stopping visitors from coming.

Closing the parks will have a devastating impact on a lot of local businesses that depend on the tourism they bring in. Also the safety of visitors could be at risk.

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

"It's really a nightmare scenario, " Garder said. "Absolutely ridiculous." He then informed the Times of breakdowns in the campground reservation system, illegal camping practices and visitors stringing Christmas lights from delicate Joshua trees that they are supposed to leave untouched. Indeed, Joshua Tree is reportedly closing all campsites starting today. The General's Highway, which connects the park and leads to its famous giant Sequoia trees has become icy and risky, leading to 3-hour-long backups along the route.

In Yellowstone National Park private tour companies have picked up some of the maintenance normally done by federal workers.

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.

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