Words by Elizabeth Cuomo
Happy 2019, ya’ll. December is over, and thank God for that. Last month’s never-ending string of celebrations was starting to feel like a fugue state. So throw out the Christmas tree, vacuum up the stray pine needles, and toss the tinsel scraps. The party is over (we can help you deal with that) and shit is, literally, piling up in this country.
The government has been partially shut down for the past two weeks. By now, this should not be new news to you, but maybe you’ve been out of the country, or too inebriated to pay attention to the news.
Some weird stuff has been happening in America’s national parks. One of the unintended consequences of the government shutdown, without proper maintenance, national parks like Joshua Tree National Park in California have been left open to the public. Without proper supervision, in addition to the influx of visitors, the facilities have erm.. Gone downhill.
“Once those port-a-potties fill up, there’s no amount of cleaning that will save them,” said Sabra Purdy to The Washington Post. Sabra and her husband, Seth, own Cliffhanger Guides in Joshua Tree. “At that point, I think I’m going to have to tap out.”
Since the government shutdown, Sabra and Seth have been volunteering with other Joshua Tree locals to keep the park going. “Because we love this place and we know how trashed it’ll get if we don’t.” said Purdy.
Last week, The Los Angeles Times reported similar conditions at Yosemite National Park. Andrew Munoz, spokesman for the National Parks Service, told the LA Times that “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.” As a result of this, multiple Yosemite campgrounds have been forced to close.
Joshua Tree is following suit. The National Parks Service issued a statement that, “The park is being forced to take this action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity. In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem.”
There is something literary about the conditions in America’s national parks. The government shut down, and now shit is piling up. Soon, it’s going to hit the fan.
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