It’s no secret that the National Parks are in a state of waiting with the government shutdown. All it takes is a quick google search to see photos of trash piling up or headlines about injured visitors needing to be transported by good samaritans because no emergency resources are available.
That’s an unfortunate byproduct of the current shutdown, but there are ways to help keep our precious parks in the state they deserve.
We’ve compiled a shortlist of organizations and actions you can support if our national spots of nature, leisure, and recreation are important to you.
Support your local National Parks Non-Profit
The Florida National Parks Association for instance is a private non-profit partner of the National Park Service. They are helping keep treasures like the Everglades operational during the shutdown.
Visit and donate
Zion National Park in Utah suffers from the shutdown as much as any other. The state of Utah issued $80,000 in state funds to keep basic services functional, but according to the executive director of the Zion Park Forever Project, the park largely relies on the goodwill and contributions of visitors. That means people picking up after themselves and, if able, donating time, resources, or money to the cause.
Donate to wildlife conservation
Another problem that arises when you have “overflowing trash bins, human waste in inappropriate places, altercations over parking spots and other impacts,” is that there is not only a threat to the safety of visitors, but to the wildlife whose ecosystem is put at risk.
Read and follow #ShutdownStories
Visibility and driving awareness is as important as anything, and there are countless amazing #ShutdownStories being told over social media. Follow along and share to your community.
Pick up after yourself but don’t clean up after your neighbors
There’s a reason why maintenance staff is hired to do their jobs. They are outfitted with the right uniforms and materials, and have the right vaccinations. Given the dire situation within many of the national park bathrooms for instance, it may be a bio-hazardous area and is not for the average park goer to try to remedy. That being said, if you visit a national park, pick up your own trash and plan for their being no accessible restrooms during your time.
Write your representatives
Ultimately, the government started this and the government will end the shutdown. Ensure that your local and state representatives know how you feel about this issue so they can advocate for your point of view.
Shop for the cause
We love places like Parks Project, where every purchase helps a project in a national park. If the cause fails to sway you, their clothes and accessories look well designed and ready for your adventure. Peruse their goods here.
Here’s hoping you find a way to enjoy and support the outdoors this year.