Joshua Tree National Park to remain open as recreation fee funds will be used to bring back cleaning staff

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. (KABC) -- The National Park Service announced that Joshua Tree National Park will remain open and that recreation fee funds will be used to have sanitation staff around to keep the landscape clean.

NPS officials had said that the park would close Thursday after massive amounts of trash and some damage was done to the park during the government shutdown. Photos showed people offroading, leaving behind bags of trash and destroying Joshua Trees.

But on Wednesday, officials said that revenue generated by recreation fees was used to keep it open.

The park will provide certain services to the public again come Thursday.

The following areas will be accessible again:
  • Campgrounds
  • Stirrup Tank Road
  • Lost Horse Mine Road and trail
  • Keys View Road
  • Rattlesnake Canyon Road and picnic area

The agency determined that using the funds could bring back maintenance crews who can address the sanitation issue and maintain some visitor areas. The funds will also allow NPS to bring on extra staff to protect park resources and avert damage that happened during the shutdown.

Still, most facilities will be closed with the exception of the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center. The other four centers that are part of the National Park Service will be closed.

Entrance stations will also be open, but service and campground fees will not be collected.

Earlier Wednesday, volunteers ventured into Joshua Tree in an effort to help keep things clean.

"We showed up here Monday and we've just been cleaning every single day," one volunteer said. "It's probably cleaner than it has been in a long time, thanks to everybody and everybody that's volunteering."

They've also been cleaning bathrooms and providing plenty of toilet paper.
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