LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — We’re getting a real idea of what kind of damage happened to our national parks during the partial government shutdown.
It’s been a week since the government reopened, but cleanup could take a while.
Video and pictures only tell part of the story.
“It's a shame we have things this beautiful that get destroyed so quickly,” said Maggie Frank while she was visiting Lake Mead last month.
Despite help from non-profits, donations and even cold hard cash to open the visitors center, it could take a while to get Death Valley National Park back to where it was.
“Two restrooms had some vandalism where people tried to get into a restroom that was locked and did extensive damage to the doors.
Unfortunately, one of those buildings is a historic structure,” explained Abby Wines, a spokesperson for the park.
Off-roading, which is illegal, was also a problem.
Wines said, “A lot of the landscape around here consists of a thin hard crust which covers a soft silty soil. That means that that trench where the tire marks are remains for years to come if it’s not restored.”
The park tells News 3, that even well-intentioned people caused issues because there was no money to clean, stock or pump the toilets.
At least a half ton of human waste was found outside the restrooms. Wines said, “That was the really unusual part.”
Unlike Death Valley which sees a spike in visitors around the winter holidays, Lake Mead remains a bit quieter, which could have helped keep it a bit cleaner.
“We never really had a huge impact here. Most of the impacts are behind the scenes kind of thing," said Park spokesperson Laurie Smith said.
Part of the reason is they got a huge helping hand from local volunteers and concessionaires.
Another casualty of the shutdown was a coyote. He was euthanized because Park Rangers say he was becoming too friendly with humans, even faking injuries to beg for food, a taste he squired from the overflowing trash cans.