Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman spent their Saturday alongside volunteers at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is run by the National Park Service, picking up trash. On Wednesday morning, the two House members hauled it to the White House to provide a “reality check” to President Trump about the shutdown's impact.
“Let it never be said that I didn’t give anything to Donald Trump,” Huffman said on Wednesday. “Today I’m bringing boxes of trash from that rainy Saturday in San Francisco to provide a reality check to the president, so that he understands that his political stunt in shutting down the government over the border wall has real world consequences.”
While the lawmakers admitted that their move was itself a stunt, Speier called the situation in the national parks “a real security problem” that is “artificially contrived by the president.”
“He is turning us into a third-world country,” she added. The government shutdown is causing mounting problems in the country’s national parks as garbage goes uncollected and toilets overflow -- further, at least seven people have died in accidents since the shutdown began.
The National Park Service announced Sunday that it would be using funds earmarked for future projects to keep its most popular sites open and operational during the partial government shutdown.
But at Joshua Tree National Park, the destruction of its signature trees and driving off-road during the partial shutdown have added to problems forcing the park to temporarily shut down this week.
Closure of the vast desert park is set for 8 a.m. Thursday and will allow staff to address sanitation, safety and resource protection issues that have emerged, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.
Park supporters, members of local communities who depend on visitor traffic and even some visitors stepped in to help with some basic cleaning of restrooms and trash. The National Park Service said that assistance has been significant.
National Park Service using funds for future projects to keep parks clean, open during shutdown
The National Park Service announced Sunday that it would be using funds earmarked for future projects to keep its most popular sites open and operational during the ongoing partial government shutdown.
National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith said the “extraordinary step” was necessary to protect parks and provide “limited” services to visitors.
“The NPS currently has funds derived from entrance, camping, parking and other fees collected from park visitors that would typically be used for future projects at parks,” Smith explained in a statement posted to the National Park Services website.
“After consultation with the Office of the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior, it has been determined that these funds can and should be used to provide immediate assistance and services to highly visited parks during the lapse in appropriations.”
“We are taking this extraordinary step to ensure that parks are protected, and that visitors can continue to access parks with limited basic services,” added Smith.
Smith did not specify which of the “highly visited parks” would be getting the funding, but stated that the “smaller” parks would remain closed. He added that the funds would be used to clean up garbage that has been piling up at “numerous” sites, clean bathrooms, bring in law enforcement, and open up accessibility to park areas as scheduled.
Smith also thanked the Park Service employees who are currently working at our national parks and memorials, as well as the partners, vendors and donors who have contributed time and money to help keep dozens of parks open during the shutdown.
News of the Park Service’s decision comes following reports of campgrounds closing at Yosemite due to trash buildup and restrooms overflowing with human waste, as well as reports of poaching and theft at lesser-patrolled parks, per the Associated Press.
The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a nonpartisan advocacy group, has since said Sunday’s NPS announcement is misguided.
"Instead of working to reopen the federal government, the [Trump] administration is robbing money collected from entrance fees to operate our national parks during this shutdown," said Theresa Pierno, the president and CEO of the NPCA, in a statement posted online.
More from The Idaho Statesman - ‘Enough trash to build a wall’: Shutdown protest delivers California waste to Trump
WASHINGTON - The White House got a first hand look — or maybe, smell — of the partial government shutdown’s impact Tuesday, thanks to a shipment of trash from California.
Reps. Jackie Speier, D-California, and Jared Huffman, D-California, picked up trash at Lands End and Ocean Beach with the group San Francisco Dog Owners over the weekend. Those are two of many national parks that have remained unstaffed for more than two weeks as the shutdown has dragged on.
Speier and Huffman decided to have some of the trash — three big boxes worth — shipped to Washington, D.C. and delivered to the White House and President Donald Trump to make a point about the shutdown, according to Speier’s office. The bags were sent using traditional shipping methods. Biological waste — dog poop bags — were removed beforehand.
“Soon we’ll have enough trash to build a wall, perhaps,” Huffman told reporters from just outside the northwest gate of the White House. The trash stood by him and Speier in a blue garbage bin labeled “Trump’s Trash.”
It was delivered to the White House police at the gate, according to Speier’s office. Police wouldn’t take it, so staff took it back to the Capitol for disposal.
The shutdown has lasted 18 days so far, with no end in sight.
It stems from a disagreement over border wall funds, with Trump insisting on at least $5 billion in funding for a wall along the Mexican border, and congressional Democrats insisting they’ll only grant a portion of that money broadly for border security, not specific to a wall.
There have been numerous photos and reports of trash piling up in national parks, as the Trump administration chose to keep the parks open during the shutdown without staff.
Speier said the shutdown has been particularly difficult on furloughed rangers in California, where the cost of living is high compared to most of the country. “This was done to make a point,” Speier said. “The point is: This is an artificial shutdown.”
Friday in San Fransisco - SF Public Works steps up to clear trash piles during shutdown in federal parks
In the midst of a government shutdown, San Francisco Public Works employees have been pitching in to keep the city's federally run lands clean.
Earlier in the week, as the federal government neared the second week of a partial shutdown with no end in sight, Public Works crews emptied overflowing garbage cans and picked up stray trash at a handful of sites under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
On Wednesday and Thursday, crews began cleaning up the trash in or near some of the highly trafficked garbage cans at Lands End and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, said Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon. On Friday, they added Fort Funston trailheads into their rotation.
Public Works employees are adding the National Parks lands on top of their regular duties, Gordon said.
"At the end of the day, these national parklands are part of the San Francisco experience," Gordon said by email. "Public Works is stepping up temporarily, as the shutdown continues, to help keep the areas clean and beautiful."
Gordon encouraged visitors to federal lands to be extra mindful of the impacts of their garbage during the federal shutdown, and asked the public to consider a "pack-it-in, pack-it-out" model by disposing of trash they create at home.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said on Twitter she was incensed by the additional work the shutdown has created for city employees.