Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California has been forced to close its doors due to the growing number of vandalism incidents.
The park, at the time of closure, claimed that the reason was due to “health and safety concerns over near-capacity pit toilets” after a small host of volunteers and a skeleton staff kept the trash cans and toilets amid Donald Trump’s shutdown.
However, as the Government remains in lockdown over the funding for Donald Trump’s border wall, all national parks are taking the brunt of the consequences. With no staff to man the park, rumours are growing that new visitors are forging ‘illegal roads’ and driving into some of the park’s most fragile areas.
“While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree 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,” spokesman George Land said in a news release.
On top of that, some vandals are also chopping down trees, graffitiing ancient rocks setting illegal fires in the grounds. Due to the sheer size of the Joshua Tree national park, the on call officers have no way to patrol the area.
Joshua Tree superintendent, David Smith, told National Parks Traveler: “We had some pretty extensive four-wheel driving around the entire area to access probably our most significant tree in the park.“
He added: “We have this hybrid live oak tree that is deciduous. It is one of our kind of iconic trees inside the park. People were driving to it and camping under it. Through the virgin desert to get to this location.”
It is already feared that Joshua Trees are becoming endangered, scientists claiming that the habitat in the national park could well be lost to climate change by 2100.