Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Shutdown: Three People Die as National Parks Left Largely Unpatrolled

Shutdown: Three People Die as National Parks Left Largely Unpatrolled

The man, who has not been identified, apparently slipped down Silver Apron, a large, sloping granite area above Nevada Falls, The Los Angeles Times reported Friday. In Texas' Big Bend National Park, a hiker reportedly broke his leg and was carried out by fellow visitors.

During previous extended shutdowns that occurred under former Presidents Obama and Clinton, the administrations made a decision to close the parks to visitors, not wanting to jeopardize the public's safety.

Ryan Zinke, who recently stepped down under fire as Interior Department secretary, had ordered many national parks to stay open, saying visitors should not be penalized for the political feud over a border wall with Mexico.

"Park rangers and search and rescue personnel respond to hundreds of emergency incidents in Utah parks each year", the letter reads.

A National Park spokesman told The Washington Post that an average six people die each week in the park system.

At Joshua Tree National Park in California, where all campgrounds were closed yesterday, no one has been keeping track of the damage the park has sustained since December 22 when the shutdown began.

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Government spokesperson Andrew Munoz said the investigation is taking longer than usual because of the partial government shutdown, and the park didn't send a press release about the death because of the shutdown as well.

Aerial view of Yosemite National Park in California.

Joshua Tree park officials said that all campgrounds would close at noon on January 2 due to health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity. The waterless bathrooms in which visitors can relieve themselves into a sealed container buried underground had remained open.

"During the lapse in federal appropriations, Pinnacles National Park will remain accessible to visitors; however, services will be reduced as we are unable to fully staff our operations", according to a National Park Service news release issued Saturday. But no workers are around to pump out the waste.

Reports continue to trickle in from volunteers about wine bottles left strewn about in Joshua Tree and human waste piling up on roads leading into Yosemite.

In addition to the human waste problem, the weather has also been an issue in some locations. Conditions at the park have deteriorated as pit toilets overflow, visitors let their dogs off their leashes and drive off road, and people set up camp in protected areas or sites reserved by others.

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