Near-capacity toilets force Joshua Tree campgrounds to close amid government shutdown

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Some national parks have taken a hit amid the US government shutdown: They've remained open, though severely understaffed, leading to public health concerns like overflowing toilets. One of those agencies is the National Park Service, which according to their website, means "there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance for most parks".

Yosemite National Park in California's Sierra Nevada was closing some campgrounds and some popular areas like Mariposa Grove.

Other national parks suffering because of the shutdown are Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, which had to close their restrooms and trash bins due to overflowing.

Joshua Tree National Park was forced to shut on Wednesday due to health and safety concerns from their "overflowing toilets", while parts of Yosemite National Park are closed to the public due to "human waste issues and lack of staffing". "Keys View Road is also closed, effective immediately", park officials said in a statement. The lack of staff is already taking its toll less than two weeks into the partial government shutdown, as reported by The Associated Press (AP). Among the closures are all nineteen Smithsonian museums in NY and Washington, DC, including the African American Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Air and Space Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and the National Zoo. There were also reports of visitors dumping garbage bags from their cars in Yosemite. This has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds and otherwise keep parks running. It also doesn't help that the trouble has arrived just in time for peak tourist season when many families are heading out to the national parks on holiday. "And there are many companies that are of the national Park".

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"It's impacted (our lives) for fun, but it's impacted people's livelihoods and people's jobs, and it's disappointing because, you know, is a wall really that important?" visiting Texan Lori Neblett said, referring to President Donald Trump's unwillingness to back off a demand for $5 billion for his long-promised border wall.

During previous shutdowns, the park, along with others across the country, was completely closed to guests. Joshua Tree said it would begin closing some campgrounds for all but day use.

"It's so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules than I've seen in my four years living here, " Snider said.

Dozens of volunteers have stepped in to help clean bathrooms and get rid of trash, including John Lauretig, a retired law enforcement ranger at the park and executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Joshua Tree National Park.