INDIO (CNS) - A temporary closure of Joshua Tree National Park scheduled for today has been averted,thanks to revenue generated by recreation fees, the National Park Service says.
Recently closed areas of the park will again be accessible to visitors starting today.
National Park Service officials have determined that by using Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement funds to immediately bring back park maintenance crews to address sanitation issues, the park will be able to maintain some visitor services, including reopening the campgrounds.
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 park service announced.
Outdoor areas of the park will remain accessible. Most facilities will remain closed with the exception of the Joshua Tree Visitor Center at 6554 Park Blvd., owned and operated by the Joshua Tree National Park Association.
The four National Park Service visitor centers will remain closed for the duration of the lapse in appropriations. Entrance stations will be open to provide safety and resource protection messages to arriving visitors, but entrance fees and camping fees will not be collected.
A lack of staff and resources amid the federal government shutdown has led to a lapse in maintenance across the park, with only a small group of park rangers on hand to handle a rash of health and safety concerns regarding visitors, including vehicle off-roading, “human waste in public areas” due to toilets reaching capacity park-wide and “other infractions” that have led to damage of the park's resources, including its namesake, the Joshua trees, said park spokesman George Land.
Since the shutdown began Dec. 22, the park has been understaffed but continues to draw a record number of visitors.
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