National Parks Are Overflowing With Trash and Human Waste During Government Shutdown
Despite numerous national parks opting to stay open during the ongoing government shutdown, recent behavior by park guests has caused some officials to change their tunes.
Initially, some parks had stayed open with skeleton staffs and limited services such as closed bathrooms and no trash pickup. However, it turns out that these specific limitations have allowed for park guests to do some damage to the natural landscapes -- for example, Yosemite National Park officials had to shut down the Wawona and Hodgson Meadows campgrounds, in addition to the Mariposa Grove of redwoods, after finding an abundances of human feces and urine along the trails.
This has raised concern from park officials and Yosemite Valley residents alike, as the proximity to human waste to high traffic areas in the park is a health hazard. “It’s a free-for-all,” said Dakota Snider, a valley resident, to The Associated Press. “It’s so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules than I’ve seen in my four years living here.” In the meantime, officials are urging park-goers to use restrooms in nearby communities or in the open facilities on site.
Yosemite isn't the only park that's faced issues among the government shutdown. Joshua Tree National Park had to close all campgrounds at noon on Jan. 2 due to overflowing toilets, illegal off-roading activities and roaming off-leash dogs. Sabra Purdy, co-owner of Cliffhanger Guides, which specializes in rock-climbing expeditions in the park for guests, told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that despite having volunteers help clean up the parks during the shutdown, it's simply just not sustainable.
“We can’t afford to wipe all the bottoms who visit Joshua Tree,” said Purdy.