Visitors helping keep Yosemite National Park clean as federal government shutdown continues

Saturday, January 5, 2019
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Visitors are taking Yosemite cleanup efforts into their own hands as the federal government shutdown continues and services continue to be impacted.

YOSEMITE, Calif. -- Nearly two weeks after the federal government shut down, visitors at Yosemite National Park are taking it upon themselves to maintain the trails.

Although they originally planned to hike, the Mijarez family decided to pitch in and help with some of the dirty work after arriving at the park.

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"We saw some other people picking up trash so we decided why not," Julian Mijarez said. "We're going to be hiking and walking and want to keep the park beautiful."

In the past couple of days, dozens of volunteers have gone through the trails and picked up pounds of trash. The volunteer effort comes after visitors had to deal with overflowing trash cans and several bathrooms that were closed because of the impact of human waste.

Ken Yager organizes a yearly cleanup called Yosemite Facelift and also organized this recent cleanup effort.

"Part of the problem is that trash cans fill up and then, people set bags of trash beside it," Yager said on Thursday. "Problem is animals get a hold of it, start ripping into it cause there's food in that trash. It gets spread out all over the woods."

On Wednesday, park officials announced they were limiting access into Yosemite from Highway 41, and they also closed several areas and campgrounds because of public safety and health issues. Most visitors ABC30 spoke to said the cleanup crews must be doing a decent job, because they aren't noticing the impacts of the shutdown.

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"I was worried about the park , it doesn't seem like it was having too big of an effect but I am worried about the trash that can be built up and the bathroom effect," said visitor Kevin Perry.

Park Officials are not able to comment on closures, but there is a map now posted at the Highway 140 entrance letting drivers know what campgrounds and facilities are closed.