The national parks in the US are truly wonderful, a tribute to many generations of the public that have seen the value in protecting lands for their beauty and historical value and have supported government attempts to preserve their pristine nature. Hence it is sad that some people are trashing the parks simply because there are few or no rangers on duty due to the Trump shutdown of the federal government.
Human feces, overflowing garbage, illegal off-roading, fights over camping spots and other damaging behavior in fragile areas are beginning to overwhelm some of the American west’s most popular national parks, as a partial government shutdown left the areas open to visitors but with few staff on duty.
Camping will be suspended in Joshua Tree national park, California, from Wednesday because of the chaos.
“It’s a free-for-all,” Dakota Snider, 24, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley, in northern California, said , as Yosemite national park officials announced closings of some minimally supervised campgrounds and public areas within the park that are overwhelmed.
“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.
Unlike shutdowns in some previous administrations, the Trump administration was leaving parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs, said John Garder, the senior budget director of the not-for-profit National Parks Conservation Association.
“We’re afraid that we’re going to start seeing significant damage to the natural resources in parks and potentially to historic and other cultural artifacts,” Garder said. “We’re concerned there’ll be impacts to visitors’ safety.”
Garder added: “It’s really a nightmare scenario.”
Most visitors were being respectful of the desert wilderness and park facilities, Joshua Tree’s superintendent, David Smith, said in a statement.
But some are seizing on the shortage of park staffers to drive off road illegally and otherwise damage the park, as well as relieving themselves in the open, a park statement said.
What is the matter with these people? Surely the normal impulse of any person with a minimal sense of civic responsibility should be that if there are no park rangers, one should be even more careful to not trash the place and despoil the parks, and even go out of one’s way to keep it clean?