Shutdown leaves nation and its parks in disarray


Photo of the Joshua Tree courtesy of the National Park Services

Zach Hansen, Business Manager

The first national park, Yellowstone National Park, was created by Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. President Theodore Roosevelt improved upon this idea and added even more national parks to the United States. Eventually more and more parks were added by future presidents.

Because of an initiative led by the last interior secretary and white house budget director, the parks were to remain as accessible as possible during the event of a shut-down. This was decided before the 2018 shutdown, which only lasted a total of 3 days.

The most recent government shut-down has broken the previous record of 21 days and showed little sign of opening soon. With most of the government on furlough, or suspension, many government employees find themselves suffering with no wages and a need to cover expenses.

What the president did put the future of our national parks in jeopardy due to irreparable damage that is being caused by the shutdown. President Donald Trump went so far as to encourage workers to “barter for their rent.”

But as much as this hurts the employees, it has hurt the national parks even more. Many of the nation’s parks are seeing trespassing, overall damage to off-limit areas, trash piling up, theft, poaching, and public defecation due to locked, overflowing bathrooms.

The level of disgust that would stem from raw sewage in the bathrooms alone is enough to cause a plethora of bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases. Luckily, no people were affected by this, but the damage to the land could prove to be irreversible.

During the government shutdown, there was a reported 7 deaths and even more have been injured in the parks due to the lack of staff. Just another way this government shutdown has hurt the very people that provide for it.

Four of the seven deaths are believed to be suicides, three of them were accidents, and all of them could’ve been prevented. Of the three accidents, one was a 14-year-old girl who had fallen off a cliff only to be found later Christmas morning, something entirely preventable by proper staffing.

The available staff is already spread so thin with everyone that is supposed to be is already working. If someone were to quit to take a paying job or even just had to take a sick day the workload might prove to be too much for an already struggling department.

Because of the lack of pay and funding, 16,000 non-essential workers were told not to come in even though the parks were to remain open, according to National Geographic.

While the shutdown has come to an end it is only a temporary solution and will only fund federal workers until mid-February. With only a temporary budget in place, the nation’s parks aren’t out of the woods yet.