Unless you’re living under a rock, the likelihood that you’ve heard about the government shutdown is very high. Now we won’t go into the political nature of the shutdown, but we’d like to call attention to our National Parks.
From Yellowstone to Acadia, Yosemite to Zion, and all the parks in between, these national treasures are some of the most beautiful places our country has to offer. Per the National Parks Services website, their mission is to preserve unimpaired natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. With over 330 million annual visitors and close to 25,000 employees, the parks are something we at Motor City Axe, along with millions of others cherish.
Since the government shutdown began on December 12th, 2018, these parks have remained opened. Why? Well it appears no one knows why, or who is responsible for keeping them open. The parks are still available for the public to enjoy and frankly, for the public to destroy. Down to the roughly 3,000 employees not granted furlough, this 87% cut has left many of the typical day-to-day park services at a standstill. This includes no visitor center services, no trash collection, closed restrooms, and a general lack of overall park maintenance. Visitors to the parks are leaving trash all over, using the forest as a restroom and some have even taken to vandalism.
There are growing concerns over sanitation and safety across all parks. One news report states, “There’s human poop everywhere and a man died at Nevada Fall on Christmas day, reportedly after allowing his dog off-leash in an area where pets are banned.” The overflowing pit toilets and growing amount of human waste could create issues, including the pollution of fresh groundwater for years to come.
The massive amounts of unattended trash (more than 100 million pounds of garbage are generated by national park visitors each year) is causing concern for local wildlife as well. Park rangers fight this battle on a daily basis, but with the lack of staff, some wildlife species are being habituated to consume human trash. The fragile habitats these animals call home is also at risk. With no one policing a majority of areas in most parks, visitors are wandering off marked paths and there is even evidence of people driving off-road in restricted areas.
If you plan to visit the any of the 50+ National Park in the coming days or weeks, please be prepared. Be responsible. Be respectful. Lend a helping hand.
Some simple tips if you're considering a park visit:
Pack snacks in a packable tupperware
Bring your water in a reusable bottle
Leave a donation in the drop box if you’re able to or Donate Here
Plan to take any and all trash you create back out of the park with you
Consider picking up any trash you see along your hike to help out
Stop before entering the park and use a public restroom
Report anyone you see violating park rules
Write to your senators asking them to either end the shutdown or close all parks
We want to enjoy the parks. We want you to enjoy the parks. Together we can make that happen. Twenty percent (20%) of our profit from all custom orders placed between now and the end of shutdown will be donated to keep our parks clean.
For a more in-depth look at the issue within the National Parks check out This Article from Outside Online.