After shutdown, Joshua Tree reopens with 'irreparable' damage staff KABC logo
Monday, January 28, 2019
Joshua Tree reopening with 'irreparable' damage
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Joshua Tree is reopening, but some officials warn the national park suffered irreparable damage from vandalism during the government shutdown.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- Starting Monday -- you're going to have to pay for your Joshua Tree campground again, but at least the bathrooms will be getting professionally cleaned.

The Joshua Tree National Park will be staffed -- but it may not look the same as it did before the government shutdown.

Tons of trash piled up and officials warn that some "irreparable" damage was done to the area when workers were furloughed for more than a month.

Park campgrounds closed during the shutdown with no staffing available to clean toilets, perform maintenance and other duties.

Minimal staffing remained in place for urgent functions such as patrols and rescues. Volunteers also went in to the park to help with trash cleanup and the facility was able to tap into entrance fee revenue to perform some cleanup and patrol duties.

During the shutdown, there were reports of people riding off-road vehicles in areas that were normally off-limits, causing substantial damage to trees and the environment, and leaving piles of trash behind.

There were also reports of vandals cutting down some of the Joshua trees, in some cases possibly to create access for off-roading.

"What's happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years," former park superintendent Curt Sauer said during a recent rally, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun.