HANFORD — Reports of trash piling up and human feces littering the state’s most beautiful national parkland have surfaced amidst the government shutdown, which is why the Libertarian Party of Kings County is taking measures into its own hands.
The Libertarian Party of Kings County has taken it upon itself to pick up the slack and members are organizing trash pick-up days at national parks in Central California and are asking for help from every community member willing to do what the government can’t during a shutdown.
“It is up to us to look out for and maintain our community,” Kalish Morrow, chair of Libertarian Party of Kings County, said in an email. “We can't let our national treasures look like a trash heap, not if there's something we can do about it.”
Morrow said since the government shutdown began on Dec. 22, some Libertarian groups around the nation that have volunteered to help pitch in with cleaning up, such as around the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Lake Mead in Nevada.
She said these efforts inspired her to look at local national parks, where she noticed there was a need for volunteers in Yosemite.
Due to the shutdown, funding for national parks — including Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon — has been slashed, leaving them with little to no restroom facilities and essential custodial services.
Visitors have flooded the parks, taking advantage of free entry through gates that are most likely unmanned by the limited staff available.
The Libertarian Party of Kings County will be at Yosemite National Park on Sunday, Jan. 13, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for a cleanup effort. Members and others who are interested will meet in Hanford that morning and caravan up to the park.
Morrow said the Libertarian Party of Kings County will be participating in a lot more events that benefit the community in the coming months and wants the group to be a positive force in the community this year that leads by example.
Yosemite National Park remains open, albeit with limited access to the park along the Highway 41 corridor from the South Entrance to the Badger Pass Road. Certain trails and campgrounds at Yosemite have been closed due to trash, human waste and other safety reasons, officials said.
The following facilities and areas inside Yosemite National Park are closed due to impacts from human waste and public safety concerns: Wawona Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Crane Flat Snow Play Area, and Goat Meadow Snow Play Area, located just outside the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park. All park visitor centers remain closed.
Officials said similar conditions of overflowing trash and human waste, as well as illegal fire rings and campfires made the Sequoia and Kings Canyon park areas unsafe to visitors and wildlife. Both parks were closed completely as of Jan. 2 and it’s likely the closure will remain in effect for the duration of the government shutdown.
“Bathroom facilities in all locations are unsanitary and unhealthy, resulting in facility closures and human waste and toilet paper accumulation,” said a post on the Sequoia and Kings Canyon Facebook page. “Overflowing trash receptacles have resulted in animals eating and spreading trash around.”
It’s still unclear when the government shutdown will end and park officials said additional facilities and areas may close within Yosemite National Park at any time for the health and safety of park visitors. They want to remind visitors that park rules are still in place and violators can still be cited.