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


The partial government shutdown has resulted in closings at the Smithsonian Institution, money problems for small businesses, and now, piles of poop at America's national parks.

Some national parks have taken a hit amid the US government shutdown: They've remained open, though severely understaffed, leading to public health concerns like overflowing toilets.

Joshua Tree, which covers more than 792,000 acres of national park from Palm Springs north to the town of Joshua Tree, will remain open during the shutdown. However, the number of visitors has swelled, "no one is at the gate", and "no one is collecting a fee".

At Joshua Tree in southern California, trash cans were spilling over and fights were breaking out among campers on the grounds, with no rangers on hand to adjudicate, according to Ethan Feltges, who runs the Coyote Corner gift shop outside the park. Less civic-minded folks are illegally off-roading, tromping though delicate natural areas that are off-limits, and leaving behind mountains of garbage that can endanger wildlife. There were also reports of visitors dumping garbage bags from their cars in Yosemite.

Trash begins to accumulate along the National Mall near the Washington Monument due to a partial shutdown of the federal government.

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

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"Any entry onto NPS property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor's sole risk", the park service said.

Travelers can still get into the park, though officials have announced they will be limiting access along the Highway 41 corridor during peak visitation hours.

Park officials are urging visitors to use restrooms in nearby communities before they enter the park and to pack out their trash. "And there are many companies that are of the national Park".

"Due to the federal government shutdown, this website will not be updated and may not reflect current conditions", said a statement on the National Park Service website.

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

"I love the park", he tells TIME. The park is open but areas like Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Hetch Hetch and Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow Campgrounds are all closed due to "human waste issues and lack of staffing", the Park Service said. Those guides are splitting the cost of grooming the trails used by their vehicles to keep their operations going, said Travis Watt, general manager of See Yellowstone Alpen Guides based in West Yellowstone, Montana.