Americans Visiting Closed, and Dirty, National Parks Blame Both Sides for Shutdown

Apparently there’s enough trash, and blame, to go around.

As Ralph Snake walked across Washington’s National Mall on Wednesday, he stopped every few feet to pick up litter that has accumulated in the once-tidy expanse of grass since a budget showdown partially closed the federal government 12 days ago.

“I decided to clean up this one section, because that’s what Americans will do,” said Snake, a 64-year-old member of the indigenous Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin.

National parks have closed campgrounds out of fear that toilets will overflow with human waste. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay. The immigration court system, already suffocating under a backlog, is largely shuttered.

In Washington, the 17 museums run by the Smithsonian as well as the National Zoo closed their doors on Wednesday after running out of emergency funding, leaving tourists frustrated with politicians of both parties.

“It’s stupid,” said Laura Vanbragt, a 20-year-old student from Grand Rapids, Michigan. “There should just be more communication between the two, more give on both sides.”

At Joshua Tree National Park, which is named after the spiked yucca plants that grow all over the park’s desert landscape, roads and scenic turnouts were full of cars on Wednesday but campgrounds were closed.

Public bathrooms and trash bins at the park were well kept, because volunteers were cleaning them, visitors said.

The booth at the park’s entrance was closed, so visitors were able to roll in without paying an entrance fee.

Frequent park visitors Marie Hoffman and Trevor Goodman, who are both 19 and students at University of California, Davis, said they noticed a lot more climbers and general visitor than they normally see at the park.

“It looks like Disneyland today with just all the cars and everything, so many visitors,” Hoffman said, attributing the increased traffic to the temporary lack of an entrance fee.

 

 

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