National parks facing litter, illegal activity without rangers during shutdown


National parks across the U.S. are facing a number of complications amid the current government shutdown, including excess garbage and illegal activities.

Because of the partial government shutdown that has been in effect since last week, employees of the National Park Service haven’t been working. 

At Joshua Tree National Park in southern California, that has resulted in illegal fires, illegal parking and an increase in littering, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rand Abbott, a volunteer at the park, told the Times that he has tried to talk people out of littering and other illegal activity but said that 70 percent of the people he encounters “are extremely rude.”

“Yesterday, I had my life threatened two times,” he added. “It’s crazy in there right now.”

Toilets have also not been maintained at that park due to the lack of workers. Abbott told the Times that he has “gone through 500 rolls of toilet paper” as he’s tried to do it himself.

Big Bend National Park in Texas has also faced problems of overflowing garbage, resulting in the potential for black bears to be attracted to the park.

Big Bend Superintendent Bob Krumenaker told National Parks Traveler in an email that “trash WILL attract bears.”

“And that creates a safety problem for people and puts the bears at risk as they quickly become habituated to human food,” he added.

National parks across the country have stayed open during the shutdown, but a former director of digital strategy for the Interior Department last week warned of the dangers of the parks remaining open.

“As someone who worked @interior during the shutdown in [2013], let me tell you how dangerous this is,” Tim Fullerton, who worked for Interior during the 2013 shutdown, wrote on Twitter.

“If someone falls, gets lost, or has any issue in a National Park or wildlife refuge, they’re on their own,” he added.


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