The Government Shutdown is Trashing National Parks—Literally

Overflowing toilets and accumulating garbage are turning Yosemite and other popular destinations into smelly landfills.
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Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

The 13-day-old government shutdown has forced many sites in the National Park Service system to close their gates. But the ones that are open may be even worse off, Amelia Arvesen from SNEWS reports:

In national parks across the country, the scene unfolding is as if a babysitter left a child to fend for himself on the playground—more feces, trash, and unruly behavior.

It's been nearly two weeks since the start of the government shutdown on Dec. 22 and the forced furloughs of thousands of federal government employees, including 28,800 Forest Service staff and 16,000 National Park Service staff.

Each national park is handling the shutdown differently, but overall nearly one-third of more than 400 national parks have closed. The rest are open, free of charge. Yosemite is open, but some areas are closed; Arches was open until Dec. 31 due to a donation from the Utah Office of Tourism; park roads, lookouts, trails, and most restrooms remain accessible in Grand Canyon, but the visitor center and contact stations are closed.

In Rocky Mountain, park staff closed restroom facilities and trash receptacles at many locations "due to human waste issues, wildlife concerns, and overall public health." Overflowing pit toilets have also led Joshua Tree to close. 

Read the whole story (just make sure you're not eating lunch) at SNEWS.