Park Superintendent David Smith: “The campgrounds and park will stay open per directions from the Administration, but no staff will be available to check visitors in or charge fees. … All visitor centers and restrooms will be closed and all staff will be furloughed. We will have a skeleton crew of Law Enforcement rangers available to respond to illegal activities or emergencies. Similarly, fire will be available to respond to emergency events.”

Additional clarification just in: “Campgrounds remain open, but as National Park Service personnel are furloughed, reservations will not be observed. Vault toilets throughout the park will remain open. Park visitor centers, flush toilets, water filling stations, and dump stations will be closed.

So: this precious 1,250-square mile National Park is now open and staffed, according to word on the street, by 3 to 4 law enforcement officers.

The Winter Holiday season is one of the busiest periods of the year for the Park — if not the busiest. The Park now sees 3.5 million guests per year. Campgrounds are full, or close to it.

Because there is no staff, no entrance fees will be collected. Thus, there will be no revenue from one of the busiest times of the year, which will create a budget deficit.

Because there is no staff, no trash will be collected.

What do people do in Joshua Tree National Park when there is no law enforcement presence?

Chris Clarke on Twitter comments: “[During last year’s shutdown] there were off-road vehicles trespassing and cutting new two-ruts near Geology Tour Road, among other places.”

What do people do in the Joshua Tree area when there is no law enforcement presence?

Jaysa Burros on Facebook comments: “The mess that is Giant Rock, once a sacred place is a good example of what to expect. Spray paint all over the rocks, trash, people blowing off fireworks and running over all of the vegetation with off road vehicles, destroying a fragile ecosystem the wildlife relies upon for their survival, and making a beautiful place hideous. I don’t understand why people are excited for nature and outdoors only to party like it’s the end of the world and respect nothing about the land. That’s what cheap Vegas hotel rooms are for.”

This is madness. The Park is going to be trashed.

The Trump Administration needs to do the right thing and order the Park closed until the government shutdown ends.

Congressman Paul Cook needs to step up for the Park, and for his local constituents who will now be burdened with inevitable trash/restroom overflow from the Park, and pressure the Administration to close the Park.

Do it now, before irreversible damage is done.

Congressman Paul Cook in DC: 202.225.5861

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in with Stephanie Smith.
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  1. Pat Flanagan says:

    When I was growing up in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains we were allowed to roam. That was a different time (I am 78). When for some reason my mother would be beyond range for help she would leave us with only one instruction: “You are on your honor.” Because the value of our individual honor had been taught to us we took those words deep into our heart and acted accordingly. I would ask all those enjoying the Park (any Park, Preserve, or Monument) during this shut down to remember “You are on your honor.” I believe this shut down was done without honor and that makes it even more imperative that we act with honor.

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