Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds Closed Due to Government Shutdown - NBC Southern California

Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds Closed Due to Government Shutdown

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    Joshua Tree Campgrounds Shut Down Due to Govt. Shutdown

    The government shutdown is shutting down the camp grounds at Joshua Tree National Park. Tony Shin reports for NBC4 News at 4 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2019. (Ernesto Torres) (Published Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019)

    Campers in Joshua Tree National Park had until noon Wednesday to get out or be forced out by park rangers, as the campgrounds are closing due to the national government shutdown.

    "We are pretty upset because we originally planned to spend three days here, and we heard about it just this morning that we had to leave," Ryan Long, a camper, said.

    Service rangers at the national park are closing down the campgrounds for health and safety reasons because they say the vault toilets are at near capacity. They also say the shutdown has left them drastically understaffed and, in some cases, visitors have been driving off road and damaging park resources.

    Trash has also been a big concern with dumpsters overflowing.

    Some visitors, however, say they are doing their part to keep the park clean.

    "We've had a lot of volunteers stepping in bringing toilet paper to the bathrooms, keeping them clean taking out trash," Shelton Hatfield, a park camper, said.

    "It's good to see people rallying together to do their part, to make sure the parks stay clean and safe," Trond Wuelner, another park visitor, said.

    Despite the shutdown, Joshua Tree National Park will stay open, but park rangers say the lack of staffing means visitors are coming here at their own risk if there is an emergency.

    "I think it's ridiculous to shut down the government," Elsa Gillespie, a park visitor, expressed her frustrations. "I don't think it's helping anything."

    Frustrated park visitors are hoping the gridlock on Capitol Hill won't continue for much longer.

    "I'm hoping that they can reach across the aisle and come to a mutual understanding," Long said.

    Eric Kelso, a park visitor, said, "It's kind of upsetting that we have to go through this political dance to get to it."

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