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Rocky Mountain National Park Sanitation Upkeep Goes Unaddressed Amid Government Shutdown

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As government shutdown continues human waste on Yosemite's roadsides prompt park closures

The makeshift toilet situation has forced two campgrounds to close due to the "health hazard" it creates, National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz told the Times.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced on January 2 that it will be "fully closed" from 6 p.m. local time due to unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and will likely remain closed for the duration of the government shutdown.

Human feces and garbage have been overflowing at the campgrounds of Yosemite and Joshua Tree national parks - because there's no staff on hand to clean up, according to new reports.

Specifically, they say vault toilets on the site are reaching capacity. "In addition to human waste in public areas, driving off-road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem".

Already, services are limited due to the lapse in federal appropriations caused by the government shutdown.

In other parks, though, there doesn't seem to be such an organized group of helpers, and it sounds like visitors are treating national parks like their own personal Lord of the Flies-style anything-goes free-for-all.

As Ralph Snake walked across Washington's National Mall on Wednesday (Jan 2), he stopped every few feet to pick up some of the litter that had accumulated on the once-tidy expanse of grass since a budget showdown partially closed the federal government almost two weeks ago. "It's a handsome time of year to visit the park now". At midday Tuesday, hundreds of cars were lined up on nearby neighborhood roads and streets as people walked into the park, many taking advantage of the canal towpath, which remains unblocked.

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The Generals Highway closed this evening at Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park.

A auto drives into Joshua Tree National Park in California past an entrance station closed due to the partial shutdown of the USA federal government on December 30, 2018.

"I went around the barricades but didn't know whether or not I could get past it, so I stopped and got out of the vehicle and looked at the sign that said the gates were closed", she said.

Visitors were allowing their dogs off their leads in an area rich with bears and other wildlife, and scattering rubbish along the roads, Snider said.

With no sign of the government shutdown ending, American national parks are left severely understaffed and uncleaned.

"The whole community has come together", he said. "Absolutely ridiculous." He then informed the Times of breakdowns in the campground reservation system, illegal camping practices and visitors stringing Christmas lights from delicate Joshua trees that they are supposed to leave untouched.

Key parts of the federal government have been impacted since December 22 by the shutdown, including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Interior, State and Housing and Urban Development. Normally, the nonprofit's center would be closed this time of year, but Rivera Murdock said they made the decision to keep it open until the shutdown ends.

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