Dem lawmakers deliver national park trash to White House amid shutdown
National Park Service dips into entrance, camping and parking fees to pay for staffing and keep some parks open
The money will be used to bring in staff to maintain bathrooms, clean up trash and patrol the parks, all which have been concerns due to limited staffing because of the Trump administration's decision to keep national parks open during the partial government shutdown.
With trash cans overflowing at national parks across the country amid the partial government shutdown, two Democratic lawmakers from California made a show of bringing some of the garbage to the White House on Wednesday.
Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman spent their Saturday alongside volunteers at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is run by the National Park Service, picking up trash. On Wednesday morning, the two House members hauled it to the White House to provide a “reality check” to President Trump about the shutdown's impact.
“Let it never be said that I didn’t give anything to Donald Trump,” Huffman said on Wednesday. “Today I’m bringing boxes of trash from that rainy Saturday in San Francisco to provide a reality check to the president, so that he understands that his political stunt in shutting down the government over the border wall has real world consequences.”
While the lawmakers admitted that their move was itself a stunt, Speier called the situation in the national parks “a real security problem” that is “artificially contrived by the president.”
“He is turning us into a third-world country,” she added.
The government shutdown is causing mounting problems in the country’s national parks as garbage goes uncollected and toilets overflow -- further, at least seven people have died in accidents since the shutdown began.
The National Park Service announced Sunday that it would be using funds earmarked for future projects to keep its most popular sites open and operational during the partial government shutdown.
But at Joshua Tree National Park, the destruction of its signature trees and driving off-road during the partial shutdown have added to problems forcing the park to temporarily shut down this week.
Closure of the vast desert park is set for 8 a.m. Thursday and will allow staff to address sanitation, safety and resource protection issues that have emerged, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.
Park supporters, members of local communities who depend on visitor traffic and even some visitors stepped in to help with some basic cleaning of restrooms and trash. The National Park Service said that assistance has been significant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.