Joshua Tree National Park Closing Due To Visitor Damage

Joshua Tree National Park will be temporarily closed due to damage caused by visitors during the partial government shutdown. Like other national parks, Joshua Tree remained accessible despite the government shutdown, however, problems of human waste, trash and damage began to occur as staffing was cut and visitor centers closed.

Park officials said few rangers are on hand to prevent off-road driving, which causes destruction of the park’s namesake trees. The statement did not, however, describe the extent of damage.

“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 park said in a statement. “Law enforcement rangers will continue to patrol the park and enforce the closure until park staff complete the necessary cleanup and park protection measures.”

Park officials also said that the closure will “allow staff to address sanitation, safety, and resource protection issues in the park that have arisen during the lapse in appropriations.”

More than just damaged wildlife, the park has experienced overflowing toilets and trash bins.

Closure of the park is set for 8 a.m. Thursday. Aside from Joshua Tree National Park, parts of Yosemite National Park are closed, as well as much of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

By: Maytinee Kramer

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