Friday, 18 January, 2019

Group Pledges Funding to Clean Facilities at Shenandoah National Park

Volunteers Travis Puglisi and Shawn Snyder load a trailer of trash in Joshua Tree National Park on Dec. 31 Volunteers Travis Puglisi and Shawn Snyder load a trailer of trash in Joshua Tree National Park on Dec. 31. Sabra Purdy
Melinda Barton | 10 January, 2019, 14:17

While visitors could enter the park without a vehicle, it's not recommended.

National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum says the agency has reached deals with more than 60 partner groups, concessionaires and states to handle basic tasks at more than 40 parks.

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt sent a memo to the park service saying that it should use funding from entrance fees to pay for rudimentary services - such as trash pickup, restroom cleaning and patrolling park areas - that have been halted during the budget impasse, now in its 16th day.

In a prepared statement, Stewart said, "I am grateful for the quick response to our letter and the extraordinary steps the department is taking to ensure our Utah parks are protected and open for visitors". The National Park Service's to-do list has grown to almost $12 billion. The plan said relevant parks would "utilize available retained recreation fees balances to provide basic visitor services", but it also said an area "must be closed" if visitor access became "a safety, health or resource protection issue".

"This will not open up the parks in any safe, effective manner for tourists to have a safe and enjoyable experience", she said. The agency, however, said it will still not be able to fully open parks and that many will remain closed.

John Lauretig, Executive Director of Friends of Joshua Tree (one of the leading nonprofit organizations helping to keep the park so well maintained) detailed in an interview with ASN just how much the local community has been working since day one to stay ahead of the potential snowball effects of a government shutdown.

Since any staffers returning to work will have their salaries funded through fees, this will mean that some Park Service employees will be paid for the hours they work during the shutdown while others, including some law enforcement officers, will not. "I knew a disaster was coming and I wasn't going to let the federal government ruin my home", he said.

This is not the first time that the group has volunteered their services, either.

Now, the couple has an open meeting at their shop every morning where they organize the clean-up effort with anyone who shows up.

In addition to cleaning and restocking the bathrooms, volunteers are also using trucks and trailers to haul trash out of overflowing dumpsters.

"We picked up the trash to bring to the trash cans", Underwood said.

As the shutdown continues, risks emerge at national park sites.

"Not only is this the place that puts food on our table, but it's a place we hold sacred", he said. The effort has been supported by volunteers.

The National Park Service, citing aging facilities, increased visitation and unreliable funding, hasn't kept pace with infrastructure repairs, said Restore America's Parks' campaign organizer Michael Dabbs, during a 2017 meeting at the WildEdge Brewing Collective in downtown Cortez.

One of the reported deaths included a man who died at Yosemite National Park from injuries to the head.

The Newlands have always been avid hikers, but when Marc told his daughter about how the shutdown would affect the mountain park, she suggested that they take it upon themselves to keep the trails tidy.