Soap Box Talk: The National Park Service (NPS) is the Unspoken Casualty of our Current Government Shutdown
Campgrounds are rotting; there’s literal shit spewing from yet-repaired toilets; three people, thus far, have died. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the current, un-backed (and unfunded) National Parks System.
Unless you’ve been under a proverbial rock—and a fucking heavy one, at that—you should be wildly aware of the current state of our government. Which, essentially, is to say this: You realize we don’t, as of this article’s publishing, still have a funded or working or functioning national government. All for what, a vanity project birthed of egoisms and bubbling of xenophobia?
Yes; that’s exactly why. And it’s, in a literal sense, unrooting one of our nation’s foremost treasures: our National Parks.
By federal law, national parks are required to protect the resources they've been entrusted with. So, therefore, one could argue that the federal government's decision to "soft close" some parks violates the law. (Spoiler alert: it 100-percent does.) Without staffed (and paid) rangers patrolling these enchanting lands, Native American artifacts, wildlife, and even streams and waterways are at-risk of being tampered with or, worse off, killed or stolen or polluted.
What's worse off is that this recent government shutdown has also, sadly, laid claim to a sobering reality: Favoritism is alive and well in the NPS system
Take our beloved due-South National Park, Joshua Tree. In just the past few weeks, reports of people off-roading through protected lands, irreparably damaging otherwise pristine landscapes, odious amounts of littering, and people literally shitting on trails are all on the rise.
Then we have our sister-park, Yosemite, to our East. Unpaid park rangers and volunteers, too, have found gross amounts of human excrement that has devastated habitats next to roads; locals, in a last-ditch effort to thwart further damage, have organized work crews to manage trash and safeguard some areas the affected areas.
…The government's shutdown and the rhyme and reason for it exist solely in the palm of a few, literally neck-less and metaphorically spineless Republicans.
What's worse off is that this recent government shutdown has also, sadly, laid claim to a sobering reality: Favoritism is alive and well in the NPS system. Larger, more popular parks have been the beneficiaries of widespread support. On the other hand, more obscure, lesser-known National Parks have been overlooked, making them entirely left to fend for themselves—and lave fate to chance. (Most of the large-scale, shall we say hashtag-postcard-and-insta-famous parks have enjoys a slow-burn of good-willed support, allowing them to keep their gates open a bit.)
So, what can you do—aside from spamming everyone you know with Cardi B’s poignant rant? Well, from a political outlook, nothing; the government's shutdown and the rhyme and reason for it exist solely in the palm of a few, literally neck-less and metaphorically spineless Republicans.
But here’s what you can do. You can volunteer your time to a nearby NP; you can raise awareness on just how important the NPS system is to our nation; you can donate to local, state, national, and international NGOs that help protect our country (or world’s) natural spaces, outside the grapes of political power. The list goes on, however, it all distills down to this: Just be a fucking decent human being to many faces of Mother Nature around you, protected or not.
// Photography by Aleksandar Jason