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Illegal roads, cut down Joshua trees, and damaged federal property, along with the need to clean up garbage, prompted Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith to announce Tuesday that the park would close indefinitely on Thursday to address those impacts incurred during the ongoing partial government shutdown.
“The park will be closed until I can ensure that resources inside the park are protected,” Smith said during a short phone call. “We’re hoping that the shutdown will be over soon.”
While the closure will take effect 8 a.m. Thursday, the superintendent could not say how long it would last. Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has directed the National Park Service to use fee revenues brought in under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to pay for cleanup and additional law enforcement personnel. Smith said that while his park normally takes in about $9 million a year, most of that has been committed to projects. Staff was working to see how much in unobligated funds remained.