Poop Is Piling Up in National Parks Thanks to Government Shutdown

Poop Is Piling Up in National Parks Thanks to Government Shutdown

Poop Is Piling Up in National Parks Thanks to Government Shutdown

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

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.

John Garder, senior director of budget and appropriations at the National Parks Conservation Association, told ABC News that when park rangers aren't available to give basic safety information, visitors are less likely to be prepared.

At California's Yosemite National Park, for example, trash and human waste are piling up, as restrooms are overused with few employees to maintain them.

The restrooms and visitor centers at the park in California have been closed since December 22, when the partial government shutdown began, the Los Angeles Times reported.

However, the National Park Service closed the Joshua Tree campgrounds at 12 p.m. on Wednesday over health and safety concerns. A person illegally shot dead a pregnant elk at Zion National Park in Utah, which authorities say was a poacher taking advantage of the limited park security.

"It's a free-for-all", said Dakota Snider, 24, a Yosemite Valley resident, reported The Associated Press.

The Smithsonian Institution will close off its museums and the National Zoo on Wednesday because it has depleted its temporary funding. Garbage is overflowing in bins at Big Bend National Park in Texas, causing health hazards as well as attracting black bears.

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Numerous other parks across the United States also are partly or fully closed, reported National Parks Traveler, which has compiled a list of shutdowns. It also doesn't help that the trouble has arrived just in time for peak tourist season when many families are heading out to the national parks on holiday.

"Rangers are of course very demoralized right now, because they want to be in the parks serving visitors and protecting them, but they are coming into this situation where they're already challenged".

In most of the parks, services and facilities have been ceased, including their trash collection and restroom services.

The superintendent at Joshua Tree, David Smith, thanked the volunteers on Monday but said they have to close some of the campgrounds because the toilets, which don't have plumbing or a septic system, are too full. "A nightmare scenario", he says.

All others will be asked to enter the park via Highway 140.

And at Yosemite, visitors were allowing their dogs to run off-leash and leaving bags of trash along the roads, Snider said.

"It's definitely not our preference - the park service does a good job doing their thing and we hate to see them out of work", Travis Watt, general manager of See Yellowstone Alpen Guides based in West Yellowstone, Montana, told the AP.

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