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Joshua Tree During The Shutdown

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Cambria McCalla

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Considerable Canines
March 13, 2019
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Joshua Tree During The Shutdown

Joshua Tree National Park was one of the many National Parks affected by the government shutdown. The now longest recorded government shutdown led to the furloughing of many federal employees, including park rangers and park staff. The majority of Joshua Tree National Park remained open to the public with sensitive areas marked as off-limits throughout the shutdown. There was a skeleton crew of approximately 100 who patrolled the park which is roughly the size of Delaware.

There were reports of vandalism, offroading, and illegal camping throughout the course of the shutdown. The reversible vandalism consists of spraypainting on major rock formations and bathroom facilities. However, greater harm was done to the endangered park namesake. These magnificent trees which take 60 years to reach maturity were cut down to make way for offroading vehicles. The vehicles were driving on the sensitive cryptobiotic crust on which the tire tracks and footprints will remain for hundreds of years. There is also the concern of theft in regards to artifacts and the Joshua Trees themselves. The illegal camping created an influx of trash including human excrement endangering the stability of the surrounding ecosystem.  

The Coachella Valley and the greater community banded together to perform a park-wide cleanup and cleaned the bathroom facilities. Many parkgoers contributed to the cleanup by ensuring they maintained their own waste and aided in the cleanup. The park was shut down for several days while the remaining staff repaired the damage that could be repaired. “The shutdown does not just increase the risk to assets the park protects and to the people who visit them,” Sally Jewell (former head of the interior during the Obama administration) explained in an interview with Public Radio International, “It also causes a break in the collection of data for much of the science that takes place in the parks. Some of this loss of data could have profound effects on research results.”

Joshua Tree is undergoing the same theft obstacles as Olympic National Park experienced during the 2013 shutdown during the Obama administration. No clear plan for rehabilitation has been established as current National Park funding is for emergency costs. With the National Parks quickly losing revenue with an estimated loss of about $6 million in potential entrance fees so far from Joshua Tree alone, the prospects for the budgets of the National Park system breaking even this year do not look promising.

Boyette, Chris. “The Government Shutdown and Overflowing Toilets Force Joshua Tree National Park to Close.” CNN, Cable News Network, 2 Jan. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/01/01/us/government-shutdown-national-parks-toilets-services/index.html.

Chen, Jeremy. “Congressman Ruiz Visits Joshua Tree National Park amid Shutdown.” KESQ, KESQ, 22 Jan. 2019, www.kesq.com/news/congressman-ruiz-visits-joshua-tree-national-park-amid-shutdown/984907176.

Jackson, David, and Michael Collins. “Shutdown: Trump Imposes New Travel Restrictions, Plans ‘Major Announcement’ on Saturday.” Desert Sun, The Desert Sun, 18 Jan. 2019, www.desertsun.com/story/news/politics/2019/01/18/government-shutdown-2019-donald-trump-taunts-nancy-pelosi-over-trip/2613106002/.

“Joshua Tree National Park to Remain Accessible.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/jotr/learn/news/joshua-tree-national-park-to-remain-accessible.htm.

“National Parks and Public Lands Suffer during US Government Shutdown.” Public Radio International, PRI, www.pri.org/stories/2019-01-22/national-parks-and-public-lands-suffer-during-us-government-shutdown.

Ray, Lexis-Olivier. “Joshua Tree Is OK for Now ~ How Volunteers Are Pitching in During the Shutdown ~ L.A. TACO.” L.A. TACO, 17 Jan. 2019, www.lataco.com/joshua-tree-is-ok-for-now/.

“Shutdown Causes Major Damage to Threatened Joshua Trees in Iconic National Park.” Earthjustice, 14 Jan. 2019, earthjustice.org/news/press/2019/shutdown-causes-major-damage-to-threatened-joshua-trees-in-iconic-national-park.

 

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About the Writer
Cambria McCalla, Writer

I am a senior here at Xavier College Prep. Monday and Wednesday nights I  love to lead Wyld Life, and I am a student leader in Young Life. These organizations...

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Joshua Tree During The Shutdown