Quantcast

Volunteers Protect Our National Parks During Shutdown

Popular
Volunteer Alexandra Degen cleans a restroom at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 4 in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

As the partial government shutdown drags on, volunteers across the country are rolling up their sleeves to preserve our beloved national parks.

At Joshua Tree National Park—which nearly closed due to a buildup of trash, human waste and vandalism—a team of volunteers have helped clean the park's overflowing toilets and dumpsters on just about every day of the government impasse, Outside Online reported.


"I feel pretty good about what's going on in the park and the state of it now," Seth Zaharias, the owner of climbing company Cliffhanger Guides, who helped spearhead the cleanup campaign with the nonprofit Friends of Joshua Tree National Park, told Outside. "They only have between five to seven regular maintenance staff. On a big day, we had just shy of a hundred people come out. Our park was ours again."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, the nation's largest mens' Muslim youth organization, is also making headlines for tidying the nation's parks, including Joshua Tree; the National Mall; Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia; Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park, near Cleveland and Akron; Everglades National Park in Florida, according to CityLab.

Dan Little, who is married to Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, recently scoured the bathrooms at the Sno-Park at Mt. Hood National Forest and sent President Donald Trump a $28 bill for his services.

"This is just one of the many reasons I love my husband," the governor tweeted about the gesture.

Many national parks are open but since staff are furloughed amid the longest shutdown in U.S. history, services such as maintenance, visitor services, and law enforcement are not being performed, or are severely limited.

These parks aren't just missing key services, they're losing a lot of money. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) said that the parks usually make an average of $400,000 a day in fee revenue, but since the start of the shutdown, the National Park Service service has lost more than $6 million in fee revenue.

The park service said in an online statement on Jan. 6 it will dip into reserved money from visitor fees "to provide immediate assistance and services to highly visited parks."

The agency's deputy director, P. Daniel Smith, noted that the visitor fee money "would typically be used for future projects at parks."

Until the federal government gets its act together, there are ways you can help mitigate the impacts of park recreation during the shutdown.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics offered five tips to responsibly enjoy these lands, including its central tenet of "leave no trace" as well as modeling responsible visitor behavior.

You also might want to consider making a donation to your favorite park.

"By supporting the Parks Restoration Fund, your donations will go to the parks that need help the most," the National Parks Foundation states. The foundation also allows you to sign up for volunteer efforts on its website.

However, Emily Douce, who works in government affairs at the NPCA, told CityLab that for safety reasons, members of the public should wait until the shutdown is over and for park staff return to work before organizing larger cleanups.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Jared Kaufman

Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.

Read More Show Less
Healthline

Made from the freshly sprouted leaves of Triticum aestivum, wheatgrass is known for its nutrient-dense and powerful antioxidant properties.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less

mevans / E+ / Getty Images

The federal agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef issued an unprecedented statement that broke ranks with Australia's conservative government and called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less

A powerful earthquake struck near Athens, Greece and shook the capital city for 15 seconds on Friday, causing people to run into the streets to escape the threat of falling buildings, NBC News reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. government scientists concluded in a new report that last month was the hottest June on record. Angelo Juan Ramos / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less
Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0

By John R. Platt

For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.

Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.

Read More Show Less
Pixnio

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Many types of flour are commonly available on the shelves of your local supermarket.

Read More Show Less