WASHINGTON — Shortly after the partial government shutdown began, photos began popping up on social media showing trash cans overflowing along the National Mall and at other parks under the National Park Service. The lack of maintenance came as 80 percent of park service workers were furloughed.
In response, D.C. and community groups began stepping in to help keep parks clean. But now, their help may no longer be needed.
The National Park Service has announced that trash pickup will begin once again, even though the agency is running without federal funds due to the budget impasse. And, the National Park Service will remove snow for the snowstorm expected this weekend.
The money to pay for cleanup crews will come from fees collected at parks nationwide.
“It won’t reopen parks that have been closed, but will help us take care of those parks that have continued to host visitors with no staff on hand. We’re still determining which parks it will affect; the National Mall was among the first to get its plan approved,” said park service spokesman Mike Litterst in an email.
Additional sanitation services and emergency road repair will also start up again and will be funded by the admission money collected by the park service.
“We appreciate the generous support of many of our partners, the D.C. government and BIDs across the city who helped us maintain our parks during the lapse in appropriations,” said acting National Capital Regional Director Lisa Mendelson in a news release.
The park service said it will use the fee money under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to provide basic services at parks and monuments. The money will allow NPS to keep parks that are still open safe for those who visit them, according to the statement.
It also said they’ll be able to better protect park resources, including Anacostia Park, Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Capitol Hill Parks, Civil War Defenses of Washington, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Georgetown-area parks, Kenilworth Park, Meridian Hill Park, National Mall and Memorial Parks, President’s Park, Rock Creek Park and Suitland Parkway.
Though many of the D.C. area’s parks remain open, skeleton staffs will remain until a budget deal is reached. That means the normal visitors centers will remain off-limits, and visitors won’t find the knowledgeable rangers who normally educate visitors about the parks.