U.S. National Parks Suffer From Government Shutdown


Art by Ella Villar

Ella Villar portrays the negative effects the shutdown has had on National Parks, including littering, human waste, and off-road destruction.

Claire Cone, Staff Writer

The U.S. government shutdown has had an immensely negative impact on National Parks. This shutdown has lead to the close of 75% of National Parks, jobless park rangers, and excessive waste inside the parks. Known as the “national emergency,”  this could quite literally become an environmental issue for the health of American National Parks.

Tourists amid their travels suffered the consequences first. Cancelled vacations to visit this country’s most monumental nature spots consisted at the beginning. This quickly lead to overflowing toilets and trash cans, tourists illegally camping on park grounds, and even vandalism from those who were upset with the shutdown.

In Joshua Tree National Park, illegal visitors camped where they were not supposed to without paying and even cut down Joshua trees. With no working park rangers, no one is able to maintain and supervise visitors and their needs, and nature is suffering the consequences.

According to former Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent, Curt Sauer, ‘What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years.’”

As for the environmental consequences, lack of maintenance has lead to copious amounts of waste, including that of humans, to be scattered and carelessly left in nature. This consists of trash and human waste.

According to the National Parks traveler website, “Last week park staff closed its campgrounds to overnight use because of sanitation problems, but many visitors ignored that closure.”

With such disrespect from illegal visitors, National Parks are facing environmental destruction since they are not under regulations at this time. Parks are more susceptible to wildfires since many unsupervised campers occupy park areas. Once park rangers return to their jobs, they will have to work harder to compensate for the littering and destruction that occurred while they were gone, or the problems will take an even longer toll on the environment.

As tourists are restricted from entering the parks, the American economy is expected to lose money as rangers are not working to regulate parking, visiting, and camping fees from tourists.

Those park rangers who are indefinitely having their jobs be put on hold no longer have a steady income to pay bills and even put food on their own table. Many are forced to work with no pay under Trump’s words, otherwise they will potentially lose their jobs and face unemployment.

“Rangers say they love what they do, but the financial realities of being furloughed could force them to leave their careers behind,” according to Business Insider. Park rangers are only a fraction of the jobless others who face unemployment in the U.S. as a result of the shutdown. Others include office clerks, detectives and firefighters.

800,000 Americans are left without a paycheck yet still expected to work due to President Trump’s decision.

The consequences of the shutdown are extremely unfair to park rangers and the nature surrounding the parks. This is one of the many negatively contributing factors toward climate change and environmental deforestation by humans.

As the government shutdown is still indefinitely on hold and the environment around National Parks continue to suffer the consequences, there are some things one can do in the meantime to make sure their carbon footprint is small. These actions include: utilizing reusable straws and water bottles, taking shorter showers, not visiting national parks while they’re closed and cleaning up after themselves in every circumstance.