Forget sunsets and mindblowing landscapes, the usual sights of the US's most iconic national parks have been overshadowed with reports of human poop and piles of trash as the federal government's shutdown rolls into the new year. Farther south in California, conditions at Joshua Tree National Park and its delicate desert ecosystems are described as "deteriorating".
"We're just going to drive around because there's nothing else to do", he said. They'd like to see the parks fully closed. The winter holiday season is a busy time here and important for local businesses, and some people are grateful that the park hasn't blocked access this time, said Kenji Haroutunian, president of Friends of Joshua Tree, a nonprofit local climbing organization.
As the government shutdown enters its 13th day, Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau (TCVB) is encouraging good stewardship through free trash bags.
"As soon as they start finding out that there's food in the area they'll create a habit and start coming out there regularly and that could be a problem with human interaction", he said.
"Everyone loves the park". Yesterday, I had my life threatened two times. This park has always felt like home. You can go as far as the road will take you, but now that's very far.More news: Pull-out from Syria changes nothing in United States support for Israel: Pompeo
Offices from the National Park Service to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Smithsonian museums are feeling the effects of losing a quarter of the federal government workforce to the shutdown.
For almost two weeks, the business of government in the U.S.is partially lame. Because of the lapse of funding the National Park Service is unable to provide services, including plowing of roads. But some say more help is needed.
One man, about to begin a job in the park this weekend, isn't anxious. "These artifacts are one of a kind, and once removed they will never come back".
Every morning, he and a paid member of his team park their cargo trailer outside the grounds and lend their supplies to individuals or groups who want to volunteer.
"It is not sustainable to have volunteers keep doing this", Purdy, who took out three pick-up-truck loads of trash from a campground Monday, said. Memorial by the Tidal Basin, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, in Washington, during a partial government shutdown. People were also spotted driving snowmobiles dangerously close to the Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park.
Human poop and urine were found along Wawona Road - known as California Highway 41 - in the southern part of the park, which forced the closure of the Mariposa Grove and the Wawona and Hodgson Meadows campgrounds.