With the partial government shutdown not likely to end anytime soon, officials have decided to take action and close Joshua Tree National Park at 8 a.m. on Thursday in an effort to try and mitigate the damage that has been caused by vandals since it was left wide open to the public at large.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, with just eight rangers on staff to patrol the vast expanse of the 790,636-acre park, which is located close to Twentynine Palms in California, it has proven an exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, task to deal with the public who appear intent on destroying this precious reserve.
For instance, without large numbers of rangers to patrol Joshua Tree National Park, many visitors have taken to driving off the pavement provided for them and creating their own roads in the wilderness. Moreover, even many of the precious Joshua trees here, which is what the park is known for, have been damaged and defaced.
This is why, according to spokesman George Land, Joshua Tree National Park officials have made the important decision to close the park, which may last until the government shutdown finally ends. Although officials have technically stated that the park will reopen in the “coming days,” this date is not yet known.
“The way it looks right now because of resources or lack thereof, we have about eight rangers that oversee a large park, we will remain closed until appropriations are put into place to reopen.”
On Tuesday morning, officials at Joshua Tree National Park announced that the park will be shut down to “allow park staff to address sanitation, safety, and resource protection issues in the park that have arisen during the lapse in appropriation.”
As the Hill reports, despite the fact that the bulk of visitors to the park were fully respectful of the environment, the ones who were not created a big enough mess that the damage must now be addressed and fixed, which park officials have acknowledged in their statement.
“While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree National Park do so in a responsible manner, there have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees in recent days that have precipitated the closure,” the press release read. “Law enforcement rangers will continue to patrol the park and enforce the closure until park staff complete the necessary cleanup and park protection measures.”
Once the shutdown of Joshua Tree National Park has commenced on Thursday, the many maintenance issues that need to be addressed will be taking place and paid for through past entrance fees into the park, although law enforcement officers and the majority of workers will not be immediately paid for their work.