Visitors are misbehaving now that park rangers are not on the job, trash is not being picked up, roads are not being cleared of snow, sites in campgrounds are not being assigned and restrooms are locked.
On those rare occasions when the federal government gets shut down by political gamesmanship in the nation’s capital, the places where the effects of those shutdowns can be seen most quickly and easily are America’s beloved national parks.
This time around, as President Donald Trump holds his finger on the pause button of government while he digs in to get funding for his vague border-wall scheme, many national parks are still technically open. However, park rangers are not on the job, trash is not being picked up, roads are not being cleared of snow, sites in campgrounds are not being assigned and restrooms are locked. Some parks, like Mount Rainier National Park, are now largely inaccessible. Others, like Yosemite and Joshua Tree, are easier to get into.
The result is near anarchy. Off-road vehicles are being taken into restricted, environmentally sensitive areas. Campers are asserting competing claims for prime camping areas. Trash is piling up. So is human waste.
If a government shutdown is an indicator of political immaturity, the bad behavior inside some national parks is evidence that at least some citizens are in desperate need of adult supervision.
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