Waste piles up during government shutdown

Waste piles up during government shutdown

National Park Service, EPA impacted by government shutdown.

January 2, 2019

Overflowing garbage and human waste at Yosemite National Park, California, has left rangers concerned during the partial government shutdown.

For nearly two weeks, more than 21,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed, leaving many parks and forests with only a few rangers on duty. Only emergency personnel have been deemed “essential” to continue to work at the national parks through the shutdown.

The National Park Service announced most parks will not provide services, such as public restrooms, trash collection and road maintenance, during the shutdown. On the 12th day of the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of National Park Service and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees remain out of work. 

While the Trump administration decided to leave national parks open to visitors during the shutdown, parts of Yosemite were forced to close this week “due to lack of restrooms and resulting impacts from human waste" on roads, the park announced.

“We're afraid that we're going to start seeing significant damage to the natural resources in parks and potentially to historic and other cultural artifacts," John Garder, senior budget director of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, told the Associated Press. "We're concerned there'll be impacts to visitors' safety. It's really a nightmare scenario."

At the EPA, more than 13,000 workers are affected by the government shutdown, according to the agency’s shutdown contingency plan. The shutdown could continue to halt EPA cleanup efforts at contaminated sites, such as landfills and mining sites, as well as halt inspections of hazardous waste management sites.

In other parts of the country, services, such as trash collection, will continue to function on local tax dollars.

President Donald Trump prompted the government shutdown because of a lack of funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.