WASHINGTON — Trash has been building up this week around the nation’s capital because of the partial government shutdown.
But things are improving due to outside groups that have stepped in and picked up the slack while scores of National Park Service employees, who are in charge of maintaining NPS grounds, remain furloughed.
“We have a simple agreement with the Park Service in the event of a shutdown,” said Andrew Lee, vice president of operations with the Capitol Hill Business Improvement District. “We pull the trash and pick up the big paper that’s scattered around.”
Lee said the group has been helping since the shutdown started.
“On the first day, we pulled 80 bags of trash,” Lee said.
That was the group’s busiest day. Now, crews are taking in about 30 bags of garbage each day from areas that are normally maintained by the National Park Service.
Some of those spots include Lincoln, Stanton, Marion and Folger parks along with Seward Square and sections of Maryland and Pennsylvania avenues.
“We feel maintaining the cleanliness of the national parks areas is critical to the overall well-being of Capitol Hill and we pledge to do what we can to pitch in during the shutdown,” said the group’s president Patty Brosmer.
Agencies within the local D.C. government have been covering other areas, such as the National Mall.
Iconic national parks around the country have been dealing with overflowing garbage cans and filthy portable toilets because the shutdown left areas open to visitors with little staff on duty.
Yosemite National Park officials announced closings of some minimally supervised campgrounds and public areas that are overwhelmed.
In the southern Sierra Nevada in Central California, some areas of the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks were closed. In Sequoia, home to immense and ancient giant sequoias, General Highway was closed because overflowing trash bins were spreading litter and posed a threat to wildlife.
Also closed was the Grant Tree Trail, a popular hiking spot, because the government shutdown halted maintenance and left the path dangerously slick from ice and snow.
Officials at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado said they were closing restrooms and locking up trash bins in many locations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.