National parks dealing with vandals, human waste in shutdown

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Day twelve of the partial government shutdown has carried us into the new year.

Some parks are closed completely while others remain accessible to the public - even with no employees on hand to assist visitors or clean up after them.

There's been at least one reported incident of an injury in a national park during the shutdown. Also the safety of visitors could be at risk.

"It's really a nightmare scenario."

Officials at the Southern California park say the closure is due to health and safety concerns.

Authorities in Yosemite National Park have also closed several heavily-used campgrounds, including some in Hetch Hetchy and Mariposa Grove, that have become trashed and now have overflowing toilets.

The government shutdown has forced the campgrounds at Joshua Tree National Park to close. Memorial by the Tidal Basin, in Washington.

"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 Los Angeles Times.

Feltges himself had set up a portable toilet at his store to help the visitors still streaming in and out of the park.

He was spending his days standing outside his store, offering tips about the park in place of the rangers who would normally be present.

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"This is a reflection on their efforts and the park is very fortunate to have a community that exhibits the kind of care and concern witnessed over the last week", he said.

"I love the park", he tells TIME. And in fairness, most visitors to the national parks have been respectful.

Parts of the national parks are being closed because officials are finding human feces and urine all along the roads.

They had unleashed their dogs and let then run freely in an area rich with bears and other wildlife, and were scattering bags of garbage along the roads, Mr Snider said.

Escalating problems have prompted some parks, like Yosemite, to partially or fully close.

The restrooms and visitor centers at the park in California have been closed since December 22, when the partial government shutdown began, the Los Angeles Times reported.

With a quarter of the federal government employee workforce beginning 2019 out of work or working without a paycheck, agencies from the National Park Service to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Smithsonian museums are feeling the pinch.

Rattlesnake Canyon will close to reduce the number of search and rescue events for rangers already spread thin because of the shutdown, the park service said.

The tour companies can likely keep this system going through the entire winter season if they need to, Watt said.