Mountains of garbage and human waste are challenging efforts to keep U.S. national parks open during a partial shutdown of the federal government, National Parks Traveler reported.
In California, Yosemite National Park officials have closed the Wawona and Hodgson Meadows campgrounds, along with the Mariposa Grove of redwoods, after finding human feces and urine beside Wawona Road, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors,” National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz told the publication in an email.
“It’s a free-for-all,” said Dakota Snider, 24, a Yosemite Valley resident, reported The Associated Press. “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.”
The federal government shutdown began Dec. 22 in a dispute between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, USA Today reported.
Most national parks initially remained open with skeleton staffs and limited services — including no trash pickup and locked restrooms at some parks, reported The Huffington Post.
Escalating problems have prompted some parks, like Yosemite, to partially or fully close.
Also in California, Joshua Tree National Park will close all campgrounds at noon Wednesday, The San Bernardino Sun reported.
Overflowing toilets and illegal off-roading activities prompted the closure, the parks service said. Volunteers who had been trying to keep the park open simply can’t keep up, the publication reported.
“We can’t afford to wipe all the bottoms who visit Joshua Tree,” said Sabra Purdy, reported The Sun.
Parts of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, also in California, closed Monday because of overflowing trash and traffic jams, The Associated Press reported.
Pinnacles National Park, also in California, closed its eastern gate because of trash and heavy traffic, reported The Salinas Californian.
In Utah, Arches and Canyonlands national parks closed Monday because there are no personnel to clear snow-covered roads, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.
Restrooms and and trash bins at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado have been locked, according to The Associated Press.
Numerous other parks across the United States also are partly or fully closed, reported National Parks Traveler, which has compiled a list of shutdowns.