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On Jan. 25, the longest government shutdown in the history of the nation came to an end. But for those people and places affected, the recovery has just begun.
Officials at Death Valley National Park posted a time-lapse video to the park’s Facebook page to underline just how much work must be done to restore the parkland. The clip shows park rangers cleaning a restroom for two hours, removing trash and human filth from the facility to reopen the park to visitors.
With park workers furloughed during the shutdown, there was no one available to pump the park’s toilets — and at least half a ton of human waste was found outside the restrooms, according to News 3, Las Vegas. Park spokesperson Abby Wines described that as “unusual.”
Tourists also wreaked havoc around the park. Wines said that, in an attempt to enter locked bathrooms, people caused “extensive damage to the doors.” Wines told News 3 that this vandalism is especially unfortunate, as one of the two damaged restrooms was considered a historic structure.
Parkgoers also went off-roading through the park, which is illegal and extremely destructive to the desert valley.
“A lot of the landscape around here consists of a thin hard crust [that] covers a soft, silty soil,” Wines told News3. That means the trenches carved by car tires could remain for many years, if not restored.
Wildlife in Death Valley National Park was also harmed by the lack of supervision during the shutdown. According to News 3, a coyote had to be euthanized after he became too comfortable begging humans for food — an acquired taste from feasting on overflowing garbage for more than a month.
Death Valley is just one of the national parks that suffered significantly during the shutdown. Joshua Tree, for example, may need up to 300 years to recover from the human abuse endured while rangers were furloughed.
Featured image by Francesca Tosolini/Unsplash.
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