On the heels of our recent article about a rush of visitors to national parks encountering a lack of NPS employees, resulting in parks overwhelmed with garbage, overflowing pit toilets, and human waste out in the open, comes the news that as of Thursday, California’s Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were being closed for health concerns. They will remain closed throughout the government shutdown. A drastic step and desperate attempt to preserve the parks from further damage caused by unregulated visitors and no park services.
But there’s also some uplifting news to come out of this debacle. Dozens, if not hundreds of volunteers near national parks that have been particularly hard hit by overflowing pit toilets and mountains of garbage are fighting to clean up the places they love. TIME calls them the “Toilet Paper Angels” and profiles some of them in an article you can read here.
“I love the park,” Ken Yager, president of the Yosemite Climbing Association told TIME. “I’m almost 60, I grew up seeing the crying Native American ad and that was very impactful. I spent my whole life in outdoors, my whole life in the woods and it bothers me when people don’t care for it. This park has always felt like home. It’s a special place and I just want to take care of it.”