As children we are taught good behavior, such as respecting other people’s property, cleaning up after ourselves, and so forth. Breaking from this behavior means facing the consequences of having toys taken away or time-outs.
One would hope adults don’t have to be constantly instructed on what is right or wrong because they have grown up. But have they really? As seen with the destruction in the national parks during the government shutdown, for many, a grown up time-out might just be necessary.
The government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018, and ended on January 25, 2019, stopped 800,000 federal workers from being paid, though some were still required to work. Therefore, due to the limited national park staff, people started visiting without the supervision of the employees to the detriment of the parks.
The park closest to our school, Joshua Tree National Park, has suffered from severe vandalism within just a few days of the shutdown. People cut down trees, went off-roading and illegally camped, littered, and even defecated on the roads.
“There are about a dozen instances of extensive vehicle traffic off roads and in some cases into wilderness. We had destruction of government property with the cutting of chains and locks for people to access campgrounds. We’ve never seen this level of out-of-bounds camping,” Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David Smith told National Parks Traveler.
Like toddlers without any authority, these people are unable to control themselves from pooping on public roads, making a huge mess with their trash, and just overall wrecking public areas. The vandalism that has been done deserves beyond just a slap on the wrist; however, the shutdown reduced the staff too much to make this possible.
The National Park Conservation Association (NPCA) claims that the park service lost nearly $400,000 every day from entrance fee revenue. The national parks use the majority of this revenue for their operating budgets, such as maintenance and sanitation. They will need the money now to clean up and repair all the damage caused by the inconsiderate and reckless park goers.
It’s upsetting to see the inappropriate behavior of the park’s recent visitors and their lack of morals. The destruction that has been done to the parks has been unfortunate because some damages may be difficult to come back from. It’s only left to assume that adults do need authoritative figures to enforce rules since their mommies are no longer around to discipline them.
Assuming people know how to behave outside of their own homes is no longer an option. It is now clear that people simply do not care about the protection of nature, and that is disheartening.