Joshua Tree National Park has remained open since the beginning of the partial government shut down on December 22.
Though the parks remained open, free of charge, National Park employees haven’t been able to maintain their typical duties which help preserve the natural balance of the sites. The park made a statement this week addressing that they will temporarily be closed as of Thursday morning due to the damage caused by visitors in the past couple of weeks.
Joshua Tree National Park will temporarily close at 8 am on Thursday, January 10, to allow staff to address sanitation, safety, and resource protection issues in the park that have arisen during the lapse in appropriations.https://t.co/P7s034CS1w
— Joshua Tree NPS (@JoshuaTreeNPS) January 8, 2019
The closure is a result of new roads being created by motorists, destruction of Joshua trees, and problematic amounts of litter and human feces throughout campgrounds and roads. A dedicated group of volunteers and local residents have spent the busy holiday season helping to pick up trash, empty trashcans as well as clean and restock the public restrooms. The park covers nearly 800,000 acres in the Mohave and Colorado deserts east of Los Angeles.
With no idea of an end date in regards to the government shut down, the National Park Service has made the executive decision to dip into funds acquired by entrance fees. The revenue made annually from the 4 million park visitors is typically put aside for future park enhancements.
Read the National Park Service’s full statement below:
Joshua Tree National Park will temporarily close effective 8 am on Thursday, January 10, to allow park staff to address sanitation, safety, and resource protection issues in the park 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.
Park officials are identifying the additional staff and resources needed to address immediate maintenance and sanitation issues and will utilize funds from the park fees to address those issues per the recently updated National Park Service contingency plan during a lapse in appropriations.
While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree National Park do so in a responsible manner, there have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees in recent days that have precipitated the closure. Law enforcement rangers will continue to patrol the park and enforce the closure until park staff complete the necessary cleanup and park protection measures.
The communities near Joshua Tree National Park have provided significant assistance and support to the park, and park officials hope to restore visitor access to the park as quickly as possible to mitigate any negative impact to the local economy.