On the 18th day of the Federal Government partial shutdown, Joshua Tree National Park released a statement on their website Tuesday morning which noted, the park “will temporarily close beginning Thursday at 8 a.m. to allow park staff to address sanitation, safety, and resource protection issues … That have arisen during the lapse in appropriations.”
Park officials plan to restore accessibility to the park in addition to limited basic services in the coming days.
John Lauretig, Executive Director of Friends of Joshua Tree (one of the leading nonprofit organizations helping to keep the park so well maintained) detailed their efforts to stay ahead of the potential snowball effects of a government shutdown.
“The only time the park felt close to getting out-of-hand was during peak visitation over the holidays due to the sheer number of visitors, and fortunately, the amount of damage was minimal,” Lauretig explained. “The community has galvanized. If a shutdown continues, we will be here.”
The additional maintenance and park closure from the NPS will surely help the park – even in the lesser-damaged state they are in right now – thanks to volunteers.
Potential legal action awaits for parks that decide to use their entry-fee funds for park maintenance because according to the Federal Lands Recreation Enactment Act, these funds “are expressly designated to support visitor services instead of operations and basic maintenance.”
As of now, there are no reports of Joshua Tree’s actions being legally questioned.
If you plan to visit any of the National Parks, please proceed with caution and we urge you to please follow the “Leave No Trace” principles.
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