In many parts of the country, the National Park Service relies on charities, non-profit businesses, dealers and the kindness of aliens to keep its doors open during the government's closure.

Unlike previous federal closures, national parks are not yet technically closed, but they do not have employees.

Ironically, visitors flock more than ever into the parks since the stop, because there is no one to operate the ticket offices and sites are essentially free.

The White House appears in the background, while garbage is deposited in the National Mall due to the partial closure of the US government on January 2, 2019 in Washington, DC.

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As a result, piles of rubbish in front of the National Monument, overflowing toilets at Joshua Tree, traffic jams in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

"Visitors continue to arrive and this need still exists," said Phil Francis, president of the Coalition for the Protection of US National Parks and retired employee of the Parks Department, 41. "Non-essential people still provide essential services, and when you're rescued in the backcountry, it's not just the rangers who work."

In the Rocky Mountain National Park, the fourth busiest national park in the country, the roads are unpaved and closed to cars. The park toilets are closed and locked because there is no one to clean them, stacks of toilet paper and yellow snow accumulate behind the buildings.

On Wednesday, park visitors had to simply walk along the entrance roads or head for trails accessible from outside the main entrance.

In previous stops, the parks simply closed. Not this time.

Don Finefrock, executive director of the South Florida National Parks Trust, said past closures have caused a lot of criticism when tourists, who had planned their visit for a long time, discovered that the gateways were closed and the centers closed. closed visitors.

Garbage accumulates along the National Mall when garbage collectors are out of work during the partial closure of the federal government on December 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city would help garbage collection during the closure of the National Park Service.

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"The political heat has become too strong in Washington," he said. "As a result, parks have been asked to provide public access to the park, with only a small staff."

He said political and commercial considerations were essential to keep the parks open.

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Philanthropic groups and park partners, ranging from the National Park Foundation, which presents itself as the "Official Partner of the National Parks Service", to the Florida National Parks Association, which helps four Sunshine State Parks , fill the void.

The NPF, created by the Congress in 1967 to directly support the Parks Department, generally promotes park programs and projects, such as opening trails or encouraging youth to spend more time outdoors. .

This year, NPF weighed in early to help reopen the national Christmas tree site which had been closed initially but could not be reopened when the closure began. NPF intervened to provide the necessary support for reopening, exploitation and management. the site.

Since the closure of the National Parks Service, the National Parks Service has signed over 40 agreements with a number of dealers, partner organizations and states to provide a variety of visitor services, including garbage removal. and toilet care, said Jeremy Barnum, Acting Deputy Director of Communications with NPS.

The agreements provide for the Friend of Vicksburg National Military Park to provide funding for essential services at the Vicksburg Military Park, while the State of New York provides funding for the operation of the National Monument of the Statue of Vicksburg. Liberty, said Barnum.

Arizona provides funding for cleaning toilets, trash and snow removal from Grand Canyon Park's driveways and trails, while Concessioner Guest Services, Inc. has provided portable toilets at several locations around from the National Mall in Washington. In Yellowstone National Park, Xanterra Parks and Resorts are funding snow removal trails at the closure.

In South Florida, the Florida National Parks Association has reached an agreement with the Parks Department to keep the four main national parks in the area open: Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas and the Everglades National Park.

The last two weeks are traditionally "prime time" for non-profit bookstores operating in visitor centers, and a complete shutdown would be a major financial blow.

Jim Sutton, executive director of the association, said the parks department allowed his organization to keep the bookstores open in exchange for paying for the cleanliness of the washrooms, garbage collection and front desk staff. He also pays for utilities.

He said that he had put 15 people on the payroll only for cleaning the toilets.

Sutton described the arrangement as a "new standard" for judgments.

He added that the association does not only provide manpower, "we also spend a lot more money".

"It's important to me because visitors are important to me, I want to make sure that they have a pleasant experience," he said.

Sutton said his non-profit group had returned $ 175,000 during the first week of the shutdown, down 4% from last year but was grateful for the money which would otherwise have been lost if the parks had been completely closed.

The closure, he said, had a big impact on everyone.

"But we're staying here," he said. "This is not just for the financial health of the organization, but also for people to continue working."

• In Pennsylvania, at Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Foundation, the park's non-profit educational partner that owns and manages the Visitor Center, takes over.

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• In Utah, where the state initially paid $ 80,000 to maintain the basic services of Zion National Park, the Zion National Park Forever Project resumed temporary funding this week, earmarking 2 $ 1,000 a day to basic services, such as garbage collection and toilet care. , In the weekend.

This is not a trivial task at Zion, which has logged more than 10,000 visitors a day during the holidays.

After Saturday, said Lyman Hafen, executive director of the Forever Project, the state and the nonprofit will have to decide who will continue to take charge.

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• In Yellowstone National Park, private companies have entrusted part of the maintenance normally performed by federal employees. Contractors who organize snowmobile, bus and van tours of the park set up trails, collect garbage and replace toilet paper in the pit toilets and toilets along their route.

Almost all roads inside Yellowstone are normally closed for the winter, which means that most visitors at this time of year have access to park attractions like Old Faithful or the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone through guides. Travis Watt, general manager of See Yellowstone Alpen Guides, based in West Yellowstone, Montana, explains that these guides share the cost of maintaining tracks used by their vehicles to keep their vehicles running smoothly.

Travel agencies can probably maintain this system throughout the winter season if they need it, Watt said.

"It's certainly not our preference – the parks are doing a good job and we hate seeing them unemployed," said Watt. "But it's something we can handle."

The chairman of the National Park Foundation, Will Shafroth, calls the help of local partners and nonprofit organizations a "national phenomenon" that dates back to the closing of 2013, when some states, including the US government, said it was a "national phenomenon". Utah and Arizona, stepped in to provide money to set up parks.

He says volunteers are essential for local parks, but that can be a bit "difficult" when such groups come in during a stop. It's one thing to help with overflowing garbage cans or a toilet paper shortage, but when groups involve you in health and safety issues that may require the use of additional contractors, you begin to blur the distinction. between what would be safe and legal. "

At the same time, Phil Francis, president of the Coalition for the Protection of National Parks of the United States, called on the administration to close all the parks due to reports of "damage to our irreplaceable resources to Park ".

"President Trump has taken the responsibility to create this mess and it will be the employees of the National Park Service who will clean it up on their return to work," he said.

The coalition, created in 2003, has over 1,600 current and former retired employees, as well as volunteers from the National Parks Service.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Contribute: Trevor Hughes, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; Good Non Profit"data-reactid =" 72 ">Contribute: Trevor Hughes, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; Good Non Profit

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: National parks appeal to charities, dealers and the kindness of strangers to take out the trash cans"data-reactid =" 73 ">This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: National parks appeal to charities, dealers and the kindness of strangers to take out the trash cans