Death At National Park Unreported For Week Amid Government Shutdown

Leroy Wright
January 8, 2019

However, signs citing the "lapse in federal appropriations" explain the complete closure and no staffing or even shoveling of snow.

At Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, volunteers have hauled away garbage, cleaned restrooms and restocked them with toilet paper, said John Lauretig, executive director of Friends of Joshua Tree.

Smith added that most visitors have been respectful to the park and the facilities.

Munoz said the park didn't issue a press release about the death because of the shutdown, which began two weeks ago and forced furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees.

"A lot of people who go to the park are looking for advice about where to go - what areas are good for snowshoeing and which might be unsafe, and there's no one here to tell them", said Kerry Kelly, the group's chairman.

"At the superintendent's discretion, parks may close grounds/areas with sensitive natural, cultural, historic, or archaeological resources vulnerable to destruction, looting, or other damage that can not be adequately protected by the excepted law enforcement staff that remain on duty", Barnum said. Jarvis said that's why during the last government shutdown he closed their gates.

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People have been rushing to the parks to take advantage of the lack of entrance fees, but this has resulted in a build-up of trash and human waste, a potential hazard. But as the partial shutdown enters its third week, critics argue the parks are becoming unsafe.

Park Service officials said the entrances to Great Falls Park in both Maryland and Virginia would remain closed to vehicles during the remainder of the shutdown, but people would still be allowed to walk in.

Few details about the man's death were released Friday by the park. President Donald Trump's demand for money for a border wall with Mexico has been the sticking point in passing funding bills for several government departments. 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.

"Grab a trash bag and take some trash out with you", he said. "Rules just no longer exist, and then we want to blame the people who are doing these things instead of the people who didn't do their basic job of keeping the government open and funded".

Access to Yellowstone National Park has also been threatened by snowfall.

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