On Jan. 8, officials for the Joshua Tree National Park in California announced that the nature reserve would have to be temporarily closed for clean-up and repair of damages caused by recent visitors. During to the current U.S. government shutdown, Joshua Tree has remained open, but understaffed. The lack of park supervision allowed one or more groups to vandalize the property, reportedly littering, driving vehicles in restricted areas, and even destroying the trees that the park is named after.
"There are about a dozen instances of extensive vehicle traffic off roads and in some cases into wilderness," Joshua Tree superintendent David Smith told National Parks Traveler. "Joshua trees were actually cut down in order to make new roads.”
The next day, park officials amended the previous statement, instead deciding that the park would re-open on Jan. 10 and revenue generated by ticket sales would go directly toward the cleanup effort. Local volunteers have also pitched in their time and resources to help reverse the damage done.
The latest statement from Joshua Tree mentions that, "The park will also bring on additional staff to ensure the protection of park resources and mitigate some of the damage that has occurred during the lapse of appropriations."
The Drive has reached out to contacts at Joshua Tree for an up-to-date status of the park, and will update this story once more information becomes available.