If you’ve followed the news at all recently, then you’ve likely heard some of the stories of those affected by the recent government shutdown, the longest in history. Our latest podcast episode, which you can listen to here, actually spotlighted the government shutdown, as we talked with Aaron Merrick of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, among others. In fact, news reports this week credited air traffic controllers with helping end the shutdown. However, as federal employees return to work, at least temporarily, we’re hearing of how the effects of the shutdown could be long term, especially for places like national parks and the communities they serve.

We actually reported a few weeks ago about some of the consequences of the government shutdown on national parks. Yet some of those consequences continue even as most parks have reopened. But as multiple publications have reported, the damage to the environment and the National Park Service could be long lasting. Below, The Cut discusses the shutdown’s effect on Joshua Tree National Park:

Throughout the duration of the shutdown, which lasted a record-long 35 days, national parks greatly suffered: human waste piled up, lands were littered with trash, and some campgrounds and other public areas even closed to visitors, as the parks weren’t adequately staffed to stay open. It wasn’t until after Joshua Tree closed on January 2, though, that humans became excessively reckless, during which they off-roaded, graffittied rocks, started campfires in illegal areas, and cut down protected trees.

“What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years,” former Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent Curt Sauer said at Shutdown the Shutdown for Joshua Tree National Park, a rally this past Saturday near the California park, where more than 100 people amassed to decry the environmental and economic impacts that the shutdown had on Joshua Tree.

Per the Palm Springs Desert Sun, John Lauretig, the executive director of the Friends of Joshua Tree, also took the stage to condemn the government for refusing to close national parks when it doesn’t have adequate funds to pay employees and protect the natural habitat. During the shutdown, Lauretig was just one of the local volunteers who handled the park’s basic maintenance.

Read the full story on The Cut.

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Recommended Reading

  • Offshore drilling ban poised to pass Oregon Legislature (Statesman Journal)
  • Bill To Give States Control Of Oil And Gas Drilling On Federal Lands Won’t Pass, Expert Says (KRCC)
  • National Parks Suffered Irreparable Damage During The Shutdown (Pacific Standard Magazine)
  • Industrial fishing ushers the albatross closer to extinction, say researchers (The Guardian)