Four weeks have gone by, as the partial government shutdown continues to drag on. During this time, America's most beloved and treasured national parks are suffering greatly due to shutdown. From overfilling trash cans, to overflowing toilets, and visitors trespassing, going off of trails stepping onto precious vegetation and plants, the damage being done is absolutely heartbreaking. Vandalism, illegal camping and extensive trash and human waste are also impairing these sacred lands.

In Joshua Tree, some people have cut down the park's Joshua Trees, to create illegal roads deep within the park. These are trees that have survived hundreds of years, and are already facing possible extinction due to the rise in temperatures from global warming. This is completely unacceptable. These beautifully exquisite virgin lands and forests are some of the world's most precious treasures. People visit them to breathe in fresh air, to find their humanity, to escape and be present with the untouched natural beauty of our delicate world.

Because the typical National Park Service staff are off the job, no one is helping maintain human impact, like cleaning up the bathrooms, directing people to stay on the correct paths, or picking up trash on the side of the road. Wild animals are getting into the trash, undoing years and years of efforts to stray away animals from associating human food with their own food. In addition to these damages, the parks are losing entry fees which is roughly $400,000 a day, that fund the parks. Despite many volunteer efforts to clean up the parks, they continue to watch others ruin them.

Our national parks represent a wide variety of landscapes, from east to west coast, from deserts to oceans, these natural splendors are not only elegant and captivating in sight, but they are educational, affordable, convenient, and provide space for people to enrich their lives both physically and spiritually. These precious parts of earth should be protected and respected. Once they are damaged, they cannot fully recover. Anyone planning on visiting the parks while the shutdown continues, please clean up after yourself, respect these open spaces, and do not harm the parks.