Park Superintendent David Smith: “The campgrounds and park will stay open per directions from the Administration, but no staff will be available to check visitors in or charge fees. … All visitor centers and restrooms will be closed and all staff will be furloughed. We will have a skeleton crew of Law Enforcement rangers available to respond to illegal activities or emergencies. Similarly, fire will be available to respond to emergency events.”
Additional clarification just in: “Campgrounds remain open, but as National Park Service personnel are furloughed, reservations will not be observed. Vault toilets throughout the park will remain open. Park visitor centers, flush toilets, water filling stations, and dump stations will be closed.”
So: this precious 1,250-square mile National Park is now open and staffed, according to word on the street, by 3 to 4 law enforcement officers.
The Winter Holiday season is one of the busiest periods of the year for the Park — if not the busiest. The Park now sees 3.5 million guests per year. Campgrounds are full, or close to it.
Because there is no staff, no entrance fees will be collected. Thus, there will be no revenue from one of the busiest times of the year, which will create a budget deficit.
Because there is no staff, no trash will be collected.
What do people do in Joshua Tree National Park when there is no law enforcement presence?
Chris Clarke on Twitter comments: “[During last year’s shutdown] there were off-road vehicles trespassing and cutting new two-ruts near Geology Tour Road, among other places.”
What do people do in the Joshua Tree area when there is no law enforcement presence?
Jaysa Burros on Facebook comments: “The mess that is Giant Rock, once a sacred place is a good example of what to expect. Spray paint all over the rocks, trash, people blowing off fireworks and running over all of the vegetation with off road vehicles, destroying a fragile ecosystem the wildlife relies upon for their survival, and making a beautiful place hideous. I don’t understand why people are excited for nature and outdoors only to party like it’s the end of the world and respect nothing about the land. That’s what cheap Vegas hotel rooms are for.”
This is madness. The Park is going to be trashed.
The Trump Administration needs to do the right thing and order the Park closed until the government shutdown ends.
Congressman Paul Cook needs to step up for the Park, and for his local constituents who will now be burdened with inevitable trash/restroom overflow from the Park, and urge the Administration to close the Park.
Do it now, before irreversible damage is done.
Congressman Paul Cook in DC: 202.225.5861