Campgrounds in Yosemite National Park have been closed amid a foul tide of trash and human waste that is being blamed on the partial federal shutdown.
The restrooms and visitor centers at the park in California have been closed since Dec. 22, when the partial government shutdown began, the Los Angeles Times reported. Trash collection was also suspended at the park but it has remained open. But on Monday, feces and garbage were beginning to overwhelm Yosemite and other national parks.
“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.
The partial federal government shutdown has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds and otherwise keep parks running.
“It’s a free-for-all,” Dakota Snider, 24, who lives and works in the Yosemite Valley, told The Associated Press. “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.”
Officials closed the Mariposa Grove and the Wawona and Hodgson Meadows campgrounds due to human feces and urine along California Highway 41, the Times reported. Officials have asked visitors to use the bathroom before going to the park and to hang on to their trash.
Other parks were also seeing the effects of mounting garbage. Outhouses were open at Death Valley but they weren’t being stocked or cleaned. A park spokesperson told the Times the outhouses would remain open unless they become a hazard to human health.
Meanwhile, campers at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California were reporting quarrels as different families laid claims to sites, with no rangers on hand to adjudicate, said Ethan Feltges, who operates the Coyote Corner gift shop outside Joshua Tree, told The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.