Shutdown Trashes National Parks

Shutdown Trashes National Parks

Hannah Harper, Editor-In-Chief

This – the third longest shutdown in US history – is unnecessary and ridiculous, leaving people without paychecks and causing millions of dollars of damage to national parks.

Although this shutdown occurred over two and a half weeks ago, democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said “President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall — plain and simple.”

Many workers throughout the country have been going to work without pay, which is especially hard on low income families who live paycheck to paycheck. It’s hurting these families the most, but they are not able to take unpaid leave because of the risk of not only having a low paycheck when the government eventually resumes, but they ricks being let go of their jobs. These families should not be effected this negatively because some men and women in fancy suits and big houses can’t come to an agreement on a wall between asylum and war.

Not only is it completely unfair to these families, but it is unfair to the environment around us. When the NPS (National Parks Service) started in the late 1860’s, the United States government took on a responsibility to care for and protect these parks. But because of the shutdown, maintenance crews and park rangers are no longer present in the parks, leaving tourists to have free reign on the parks, and free reign to leave their trash on the ground beside the overflowing trash cans that haven’t been emptied in weeks.

If the government is not going to be taking care of these parks during a shutdown, then the parks should be closed, simple as that. It is not protection on conservation that is the focus of the NPS during this shutdown, it is laziness and irresponsibility that has led these poor environments to become filled with trash – and sewage from overflowing, uncared for, toilets.

This shutdown is causing damage that will take YEARS to reverse, according to park experts interviewed by National Geographic. This cleanup will not only take a long time, and more effort than just taking the trash to a landfill, but the cleanup will be funded by dipping into funds normally reserved for future projects and funding the parks throughout the year.

Not only is the NPS having to dip into the funds meant for future endeavors, but according to the NPS, they have lost over $6 million in revenue since the shutdown. This money is extremely important to the service, because it keeps the parks not only clean, but maintained and protected, which is the whole purpose of the NPS.

Many are attacking environmental groups for not picking up the slack, but there are many arguments to this claim. Not only is it unfair to day that unpaid environmental groups should do what the government has taken the responsibility of doing, but many environmentalists are trying as hard as possible to go into parks and pick up any trash. The problem is, it is extremely difficult for these people to take up these responsibilities, because there are so few unpaid volunteers and so many ginormous parks.

The government has been shut down since December over funding for a border wall. Photo from Creative Commons.

If the government takes the responsibility of keeping the parks clean and protected, then they should do just that. If they decide at some point to shut down these services for an extended period of time, then they need to shut down the parks as well. Yes, it would make some tourists mad, but at least the parks and the environment would not suffer from trash pollution and dangerous overflows from port-a-potties. The National Parks are under the protection of the NPS, so maybe instead of being irresponsible and letting tourists have freedom do do whatever they want during a government shutdown, they should use their power and just close the parks during this time.

The argument over funding for “The Wall” should not have the power to impose terrible consequences on American families and National Parks. This wall is going to cost so much money that could be used for things such as aiding impoverished families or increasing funding for education. But instead of using this money for good, President Trump wants to block poor immigrants looking for asylum from their war-torn-drug-cartel-run countries.

It is absolutely unfair that this shutdown is over funding for a silly wall that is going to hurt so many people in the future. 

This was not what President Trump promised, though I don’t know what we expected, since few politicians ever keep their promises.