Joshua Tree Park Battered by Damage During Shutdown
Joshua trees cut down. Graffiti painted on rocks. Those images and more circulated like wildfire on social media as people expressed outrage over the damage in California’s Joshua Tree National Park, open but unprotected during the federal government shutdown.
“Dreadful,” Sandra Rosenburg tweeted on Jan. 10. “Those who cut down Joshua trees need to be prosecuted.”
Visitors have been illegally driving off road, cutting down trees, and spray-painting rocks, Joshua Tree Superintendent David Smith told National Parks Traveler, which provides news on national parks.
“There are about a dozen instances of extensive vehicle traffic off roads and in some cases into wilderness. We had destruction of government property with the cutting of chains and locks for people to access campgrounds,” Smith told National Parks Traveler.
A statement on the park’s website on Jan. 8 said that revenue from recreation fees would be used to bring back maintenance crews to address sanitation issues, and maintain some visitor services, including reopening the campgrounds. The park also expects to bring back additional staff to ensure the protection of park resources and mitigate some of the damage that has occurred.
Joshua Tree is not alone among national parks struggling during the government shutdown. Although the parks remain open, staff has been reduced, litter has piled up, and there have been reports of illegal camping.
Some states have stepped in with funding and volunteers also have helped with maintenance.
Lead image provided by National Park Service.
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