‘It Belongs to All of Us’: Volunteers Help Clean Up National Parks in Shutdown

The government shut down over two weeks ago, leaving nine departments’ operations affected, about 800,000 workers without pay, and some national parks closed to visitors. Other parks were open with limited staffing, or thanks to help from states, but the National Park Service has warned that “access may change without notice.” As the shutdown continues, edging closer to becoming the longest such one on record, several volunteer groups across the country have decided to help clean up trash in national parks.

“All of these National Park Service people are unable to do their job through no fault of their own.”

15 people showed up in Yellowstone to clean on Saturday, but then a local businessman posted about the effort on Facebook and about 40 people showed up on Sunday.

They pulled trash out of the bathrooms, swept the floors, cleaned the toilets and replaced bottles of hand sanitizer. Some volunteers brought supplies from home or bought them along the way.

Other national parks have also received attention from cleanup groups across the country. Dozens of volunteers with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, a Maryland-based organization that regularly organizes community service cleaning efforts across the country, were mobilized for cleaning efforts in Joshua Tree National Park, Everglades National Park, the National Mall, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Cuyahoga Valley National Park, according to Salaam Bhatti, a spokesman for the association.

Grassroots outdoors lovers have banded together to pick up trash in the Smokies and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Those who are taking it upon themselves to help their beloved parks in time of need are thankful for the opportunity to live so close.

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