Destruction of its signature trees and driving off-road during the partial government shutdown have added to problems that will force popular Joshua Tree National Park to temporarily shut down this week.
The Tribune reported that closure of the vast desert park is set for 8 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 10) and will allow staff to address sanitation, safety and resource protection issues that have occurred, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.
“While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree National Park 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,” it said.
Like other national parks, Joshua Tree remained accessible despite the government shutdown and problems of human waste, trash and damage began to occur as staffing was cut and visitor centers closed.
Park supporters, members of local communities who depend on visitor traffic and even some visitors stepped in to help with some basic cleaning of restrooms and trash. The National Park Service said that assistance has been significant.
“Park officials are identifying the additional staff and resources needed to address immediate maintenance and sanitation issues and will utilize funds from the park fees to address those issues per the recently updated National Park Service contingency plan during a lapse in appropriations,” the statement said.
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