As the government shutdown approaches the two-week mark, National Parks, which rely on many employees that are currently furloughed, are seeing the negatives effects. Reports of overflowing trash bins and overused bathrooms are prevalent in all National Parks across the country, but the stories coming out of Yosemite National Park are some of the worst.
The 750,000 acre park is absolutely gorgeous during the winter months, and the number of visitors have been high as no entrance fees mean adventurers can roam the park freely. The staff at the park is very limited, about 50 people, and it shows. The park currently resembles the Wild West as people come and go as they please. And that’s not a good thing.
Thanks to the government shutdown, national parks like #Yosemite are facing "a free-for-all" with overflowing garbage, human feces and illegal off-roading: https://t.co/5elzj9JDCi (Pic: @MarkFiore) pic.twitter.com/CrMQFr5Ivf— KQED (@KQED) January 3, 2019
Reports of overflowing trash cans led the park to close down some of its most high traffic areas like the Wawona Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. As the number of restrooms in the park are limited, reports of human feces on the side of trails are prevalent, possibly causing long term issues to the area.
“With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high-traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors,” National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz said in an statement.
And to add to the madness, a visitor died after falling into the water near Vernal Falls on Christmas. His body was removed from the area by emergency services but an investigation into the death was delayed with no employees to follow up with the incident.
Volunteers have taken to the wilderness to clean up the trash and stock the bathrooms with necessities like toilet paper, but it’s not nearly enough for the park that is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the country.
A winter storm is expected to blanket the park in the upcoming weekend, leaving officials worried that trash and human feces will be covered in feet of snow. There’s no telling how long the shutdown will last, but for the sake of our beloved parks, let’s hope it’s over soon.