First reported by Axios.com
Vulnerable Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park in California have been cut down by visitors who illegally drove into areas where vehicles are banned during the partial government shutdown. As a result, the park is closed indefinitely, its superintendent said Thursday.
Why it matters: In all previous government shutdowns that affected the Department of Interior, administrations closed the parks rather than allow access unsupervised. Joshua trees already face threats of extinction from climate change.
Emily Douce, of the National Parks Conservation Association, told Vox that now-former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered to keep the national parks open during the shutdown to avoid the same criticism from 2013’s shutdown.
Estes Park Businesses Fear Possibility Of A Lengthy Government Shutdown
Visitors stream into Joshua Tree National Park despite federal shutdown Los Angeles Times
Joshua Tree National Park to close campgrounds amid shutdown due to overflowing toilets
— The Hill (@thehill) January 10, 2019
Did you know Joshua trees are facing possible extinction? Scientists claim the Joshua Tree habitat will be lost to climate change by 2100.
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 10, 2019
With only eight on-duty rangers during the shut down, people are creating illegal roads, chopping down trees, setting illegal fires, and graffitiing rocks. https://t.co/H0RIhRKuQS
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 12, 2019
‘A travesty to this nation’: People are destroying Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park https://t.co/UKzRmWk7wE
— Stephen Singer (@SteveSinger10) January 11, 2019