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Investigative report details "chaos, destuction" when NPs forced to stay open during last shutdown

By the time superintendent David Smith decided to close Joshua Tree national park on 7 January 2019, the list of problems was already long. Tire tracks wove through the wilderness mapping a path of destruction where rare plants had been crushed and trees toppled. Charred remains of illegal campfires dotted the desert, and historic cultural artifacts had been plundered. Trash piles were growing, vault toilets were overflowing and park security workers were being pushed to their limits.

It was week three in what would become the longest shutdown of the US government, and the famed California park was feeling the consequences of operating without key staff, services and resources.

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