National Parks Are Taking A Huge Hit Because Of The Government Shutdown

While national parks are one of the few establishments that have remained open throughout the government shutdown, lack of staffing because of the shutdown is likely to leave long-lasting damage to the parks. According to National Geographic, overflowing trashcans, trespassing and even unkept toilets could serious damage the ecological balance between wildlife, nature and humans. 

Many of the parks have managed to work with the limited staffing to mitigate these issues but some, like Joshua Tree National Park, have been forced to close after nearly 3 weeks of stretching funds. Visitors to the parks have created new roads and defaced trees because of the lack of ranger supervision available, according to The Los Angeles Times

Other famous parks have closed all or part of their land in order to protect it from human waste and negligence. For example, as The Los Angeles Times pointed out, Yosemite National Park closed their Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and two of their campgrounds because the human waste and other trash are considered a public health hazard. 

Along with the risk to guests who continue to visit the parks despite the lack of staffing, the delicately balanced relationship between humans and wildlife is already beginning to falter.

The Obama administration’s National Park Service director, Jon Jarvis, told National Geographic that the park service has worked diligently to train bears and coyotes from associating humans with food to lessen the number of dangerous encounters. Without the increased diligence by staffers to keep this up throughout the shutdown, risks of animal attacks and euthanized wildlife may increase.

The shutdown is also causing the national parks about $400,000 a day in lost entrance fees, National Geographic reported.

The amount of extra labor needed to clean up after the damage caused by the shutdown will also have long term repercussions on parks projects. Instead of working toward current projects, time and labor will instead be spent recovering from shutdown damage.