Near-capacity toilets force Joshua Tree campgrounds to close amid government shutdown

Human waste, rubbish overwhelm some US national parks in shutdown

Campers at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California's deserts were reporting squabbles as different families laid claims to sites, with no rangers on hand to adjudicate, according to local gift shop owner Ethan Feltges.

Yosemite National Park, too, has closed some of its campgrounds and public areas after being inundated with garbage and human poop.

And these are some of the busiest days of the year for national parks, as there was an estimated 284,398 visitors at Joshua Tree during the second half of December in 2017. Yosemite Valley's lodgings, restaurants, ski area at Badger Pass and the park shuttle remain open.

This photo shows a road lined with trash in yosemite National Park.

"The whole community has come together", he said.

All visitors are being asked to "pack in and pack out" all trash on federal lands during the shutdown, including at areas like the Stanislaus National Forest, because custodial services are very limited.




Towns like these across the US are financially dependent on businesses, from equipment rental services to, of course, locally-owned hotels and restaurants, most of which largely cater to national park visitors. "A lot of these people are returnees and they're more than happy to give back to this park".

"We're afraid that we're going to start seeing significant damage to the natural resources in parks and potentially to historic and other cultural artifacts", John Garder, senior budget director of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, told AP.

The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity. Volunteers try to dispose of garbage in the Park and clean toilet facilities that are still open.

For more information on US national parks partial closures, visit the National Park Service's Twitter account here. "Everyone loves the Park".

With Congress at an impasse, about a quarter of the federal government employees - including park rangers - are starting 2019 out of work or working without a paycheck.

Trash collection has also been temporarily nixed - even though the park itself remains open. It is unclear how long the shutdown will last and whether the National Park Service will opt to close some or all of the parks if the situation continues. The contractors that operate park tours by snowmobile, buses and vans are grooming trails, hauling trash and replacing toilet paper at pit toilets and restrooms along their routes. Because in the Winter nearly all the roads within the Park are closed, can attractions most of the visitors like the Grand Canyon only with the help of Guides to visit. "Once conditions go downhill, they will be hard to restore", writes Purdy. "But we can handle it".

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