People who wanted to spend some of their winter vacation at Yosemite National Park were in a for a rude—and gross—awakening. Thanks to the government shutdown, some campsites at the park were also shut down due to “human waste issues,” which is pretty much the same excuse that U.S. Congress is using.
As the government shutdown persists, nature lovers are coping with overflowing toilets and garbage cans, and improvised open-air bathrooms. (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. The Washington Post notes that the Trump administration initially kept most of the parks open with skeleton crews to enforce some of the rules. However, the number of visitors has swelled, “no one is at the gate,” and “no one is collecting a fee.”
Now, parks across the nation have had to restrict camping, and the AP reports that private companies, state-funded groups, and volunteers are picking up the slack, collecting trash, advising visitors, and even opening up bathrooms. 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.
Of course, the national parks aren’t just vast expanses of nature in the Wild West, but also include sites like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (New York State is keeping them open) and the National Mall and the monuments in the backyard of Congress and the White House. As the Post reports, it’s about to get worse for Washington residents and visitors: Starting on Wednesday, the Smithsonian Institution has no choice but to close all of its museums and the National Zoo due to lack of funding.
Check out the photo of the garbage heap at the Washington Monument. America the Beautiful indeed.
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