National Parks During the Shutdown: Three Ways to Help

Whenever someone I meet in my travels asks me the best thing about the United States, the National Parks system is always the first thing that immediately comes to mind. There are plenty of places in the world that have incredible national parks, but the National Parks of the USA are special in their breadth and scope. Rock formations and rainforests, caves and canyons, islands and geysers and volcanoes and mountains… there’s something for everyone, representing the most incredible of Mother Nature’s offerings and welcoming over 300 million visitors per year.

Like everyone who love the National Parks system, I am heartbroken to read about the damage being caused to the parks by unsupervised visitors during the government shutdown. Trash overflows the rubbish bins, and let’s not even mention the toilets. Worse, there have been reports of vandals cutting the endangered namesake trees of Joshua Tree National Park in order to create access for their 4WD vehicles. Even during normal operating, there are many instances of graffiti and carved rocks from people who are too inconsiderate to follow Leave No Trace principles, so I can only imagine how much worse it is at the moment.

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If you are also devastated by the destruction these thoughtless visitors are doing to some of the world’s most stunning sites, here are some ways you can help:

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The Gang Cleans the Beach

Yesterday, a group from the r/Wellington subreddit got together to clean up trash on Petone beach, on the Lower Hutt side of Wellington harbour. We spent an hour and a half (some intrepid redditors spent closer to two hours!) picking up small bits of plastic, cigarette butts, and what might have been a Pepsi bottle full of pee—ew. 

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I organised the event, which was amazingly simple thanks to the great community in Wellington and particularly r/Wellington. There’s always someone keen to meet up to do anything that someone else is interested in, so all it took was a quick post to the page and 20+ people expressed their interest (we didn’t end up having quite that many people on the day, because life gets in the way, but there was still a group of about 12 of us ready to do our part).

Continue reading “The Gang Cleans the Beach”