National parks, national monuments, Washington’s National Mall, and other federally-managed public spaces are overflowing with trash thanks to the government shutdown, Business Insider is reporting.
With the federal government unable to operate in the absence of a budget, that means that “non-essential” government employees are furloughed unless and until Congress and the president come to an agreement on a budget. That seems unlikelier by the day, as the two parties appear no closer to coming to an agreement over the $5 billion Donald Trump wants in the budget to fund his proposed border wall.
And with a new, Democratic-controlled House of Representatives due to convene this week, Trump is even less likely to get his border wall, meaning the shutdown likely has no end in sight.
Unfortunately, the “non-essential” government employees who are laid off include the maintenance workers, security personnel, custodians, and other people who keep America’s public spaces spic & span and with functioning toilets stocked with toilet paper.
In Washington, as WUSA-TV (Washington, D.C.) reports, the National Mall is so littered with trash that reporter Evan Koslof, who went out to inspect the mess for himself, was told by a Texas visitor that the National Mall is more like a “national disgrace.”
“It’s a national disgrace...” That’s what a man from Texas, in town with his family, just told me, as we look out at the trash building on the @NationalMallNPS, due to the #shutdown... #ShutdownStories pic.twitter.com/IspijVFFMq— Evan Koslof (@ekoslof) December 31, 2018
However, in what will be a theme repeated throughout this article, someone else is stepping in: D.C.’s Department of Public Works will collect the trash from federal spaces until the shutdown is over.
Over at California’s Yosemite National Park, trash is indeed a problem, as this Twitter user showed in the photo below.
Just an idea, but when visiting these places maybe take out your own trash? There really is no reason for this. https://t.co/YMsWzCVXWh— Cristal (@TheOnlyCristal) January 1, 2019
There’s another problem as well: poop. As reported by the Inquisitr, with no one to manage the park’s toilets, most are overflowing or locked. That means visitors have been doing their business on the side of the road. To stem the tide, however minimally, volunteers have been picking up trash, supplying toilet paper, and doing what they can.
And then there’s the problem of lawlessness. As the Washington Post reports, in the absence of security, the campgrounds in the national parks are basically the Wild West. So far, there don’t appear to be any reports of rampant crime at national park campgrounds, but at Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, visitors are warned to “use extreme caution if choosing to enter.”
Meanwhile, another stately national institution, the Smithsonian, remains open, for now. That’s because private funding was secured to keep it open. Unfortunately, that private money is due to dry up soon, meaning that the museums and the National Zoo will soon be closed as well.