In many parts of the country, the National Park Service (NPS) is depending on charity, nonprofit businesses, concessionaires and the kindness of strangers to keep its doors open during the government shutdown.
USA Today reported that unlike previous federal shutdowns, the national parks have not technically closed, yet are not being staffed by park employees.
In an ironic twist, visitors are flocking to the parks more than ever since the shutdown because there is no one to work the entrance booths and the sites are essentially free.
The result: Piles of trash outside the National Monument, overflowing toilets at Joshua Tree, traffic jams at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
To deal with problems at a number of national parks around the country, the National Park Service has signed more than 40 agreements since the shutdown with a number of concessionaires, partner organizations and states to provide various visitor services, including trash removal and servicing restrooms, said Jeremy Barnum, acting assistant director for communications with the NPS.
The agreements include The Friend of Vicksburg National Military Park donating funds for essential services at the Vicksburg Military Park, while New York state is providing funds to operate the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Barnum says.
Arizona is providing funds for restroom cleaning, trash removal, and snow removal on walkways and trails at Grand Canyon Park, while Concessioner Guest Services, Inc. has provided portable toilets at several locations around the National Mall in Washington. At Yellowstone National Park, Xanterra Parks and Resorts is providing funding for the grooming of oversnow roads during the shutdown.