Volunteers trying to thwart ‘free-for-all’ in Joshua Tree during Trump’s government shutdown

a climber scales a rock in Joshua Tree National Park

While Joshua Tree National Park may be open during the Trump government shutdown, things aren’t exactly going smoothly.

The park is now free to get into, due to their not being any staff available to work the entry gates – which has only added to the crowd size that is normally at its peak this time of the year.

In addition to entrances not being staffed, the park is not seeing its trash cans emptied, bathrooms maintained, or campgrounds supervised, which has led to what Joe De Luca, a sales associate at Nomad Ventures in downtown Joshua Tree, told the LA Times was, “a free-for-all in there. Absolutely ridiculous.”

Since the beginning of the shutdown, Joshua Tree park guests have been not complying with campground rules, parking where they are not supposed to, and even stringing Christmas lights from delicate Joshua trees, which are not supposed to be touched since the beginning of the shutdown.

The park is now completely relying on people like Rand Abbot to function.  Abbot told the Times he has spent 60 hours volunteering in the park since the beginning of the shutdown, changing out trash bags and replacing 500 rolls of toilet paper in the park and residents are pushing visitors to use WAG bags — “a bag that you go to the bathroom in [and carry out] for sensitive areas where there are no bathrooms.”

And even with all of his efforts, visitors to the park have not been kind when he asks them to clean up after themself.

“70% of the people I’m running into are extremely rude,” Abbott said. “Yesterday, I had my life threatened two times. It’s crazy in there right now.”

On Thursday, Donald Trump pushed again for a border wall – which he originally claimed that Mexico, and not American tax dollars, would pay for.  He also claimed that most people not getting paid during the shutdown were Democrats.


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