National parks brimming with trash, human feces as government shutdown continues

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As the federal government shutdown drags on into the new year, Yosemite National Park remains open, however reports have been flooding in of people using the roadsides as bathrooms, discarding trash everywhere and endangering natural resources. (Too bad Ansel Adams isn't around to photograph that, eh?) As National Park Service employees are part of the many furloughed federal employees, park services like clearing icy and snow-covered roads, cleaning restrooms, maintaining paths, and keeping visitors safe and informed are not working.

Yosemite National Park in California's Sierra Nevada was closing some campgrounds and some popular areas like Mariposa Grove.

The government shutdown has forced the campgrounds at Joshua Tree National Park to close.

Due to heavy snowfall on 12/31/2018, the park road is closed at the visitor center.

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Kristen Brengel, vice president of government affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the shutdown not only hurts the parks but also surrounding communities that rely on an estimated $18 million a day from tourism.

Pinnacles National Park, also in California, closed its eastern gate because of trash and heavy traffic, reported The Salinas Californian. Feltges also set up a portable toilet at his store for the visitors who are still streaming in and out of the park.

President Trump has said he's "ready" to negotiate over the government shutdown, but until then, it looks like national parks are becoming a Wild West of trash and feces.

Some visitors have strung Christmas lights in the twisting Joshua trees, many of which are hundreds of years old, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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"We're deeply concerned about the threat to park resources and to visitor safety with this park closure situation", Garder said in a phone interview Monday. The General's Highway, which connects the park and leads to its famous giant Sequoia trees has become icy and unsafe, leading to 3-hour-long backups along the route.

The park said Wednesday that rangers will staff a checkpoint from 9 a.m.to 6 p.m.at the south entrance reached via Highway 41 and only those with lodging or camping reservations in the park will be allowed to proceed.

"You're looking at Yosemite Falls and in front of you is plastic bottles and trash bags, " he said. 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.

Rattlesnake Canyon will close to reduce the number of search and rescue events for rangers already spread thin because of the shutdown, the park service said.

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"This is not really our job", says Travis Watt of lake Yellowstone Alpen Guides, "the Park authority usually does a good Job, and we hate to see the employees without a job".

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