Temporary Shutdown, Permanent Harm? National Parks Will Continue To Suffer

Download Audio
People visit Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California's Mojave Desert, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (Jae C. Hong/AP)
People visit Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California's Mojave Desert, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

The damage that national parks around the country sustained during the government shutdown may stick around for years to come.


David Smith, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park. (@joshuatreenp)

John Garder, senior director of budget and appropriations at the National Parks Conservation Association. (@NPCA)

From The Reading List

Business Insider: "The government shutdown may be over, but the damage to national parks such as Joshua Tree and Yellowstone could be permanent" — "A day after President Trump declared an end to the government shutdown, more than 100 people gathered for a rally near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The rally originally sought to oppose the shutdown, but it quickly morphed into a critique of America's attitude toward national parks.

"During previous shutdowns, administrations have suspended all operations at parks, including visitor access. The Trump administration deviated from this standard by leaving parks open to the public, with certain federal employees around only to provide emergency services.

"The shortage of park employees led to major damage, including garbage scattered along major highways and restrooms overflowing with trash and human feces."

The Guardian: "Joshua Tree national park 'may take 300 years to recover' from shutdown" — "The former superintendent of Joshua Tree national park has said it could take hundreds of years to recover from damage caused by visitors during the longest-ever government shutdown.

"'What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years,' Curt Sauer said at a rally over the weekend, according to a report from the Desert Sun. Sauer retired in 2010 after running the park for seven years.

"The park reopened Monday after the record 35-day shutdown, and park workers returned to a state of chaos, including damaged trees, graffiti and ruined trails. The reduced ranger supervision during the shutdown saw increased vandalism at the park, causing officials to announce on 8 January that Joshua Tree would temporarily close. It was announced a day later that officials were able to use recreation fee revenue to avoid the closure.

"'While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree 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,' said park spokesman George Land in the news release."

Gretchen Voss produced this segment for broadcast.

This segment aired on January 30, 2019.



More from On Point

Listen Live