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Joshua Tree National Park to close campgrounds amid shutdown due to overflowing toilets


Campgrounds at California’s Joshua Tree National Park will close Wednesday as a result of the partial government shutdown, which left the park without sanitation workers to clean and empty pit toilets.

“The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity,” the National Park Service (NPS) wrote in a statement. “In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem.”

{mosads}Some campgrounds will remain open during the day and shutter at sunset, while other areas will close altogether “due to illegal activity,” the NPS added. Joshua Tree National Park encompasses more than 792,000 acres between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree.

Most shutdowns affecting the Interior Department lead to national park closures, but the Office of Management and Budget moved to keep many open through through the holidays in hopes of limiting the impact on the general population.

Without funding, however, the NPS could not legally fund maintenance and upkeep duties.

According to park superintendent David Smith, local businesses, volunteer groups and tribal members had turned out to assist in keeping the park clean.

“This is no reflection on their efforts and the park is very fortunate to have a community that exhibits the kind of care and concern witnessed over the last week,” he said, according to CNN.

The partial government shutdown entered its 11th day on Tuesday, with few indications the government will reopen in the immediate future. Thousands of federal workers have been furloughed during the shutdown.

— Updated 9:50 p.m.


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