How You Can Help National Parks Recover Now That The Shutdown Is Finally Over

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The federal government recently re-opened after the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Now, many federally-funded agencies, including the national parks, are in the process of recovering after being forced to close or operate with minimal staffing for weeks on end. If you want to know how to help national parks recover after the shutdown, this roundup offers several concrete actions you can take to get the parks back on their feet.

As the Pacific Standard reported, during the shutdown many national parks were kept open with either no staff or very limited staff during the government's closure. This lack of oversight resulted in extensive damage to some parks.

For example, as The Guardian noted, Joshua Tree national park in southern California was heavily damaged in the 35-day shutdown period. The paper reported the park visitors cut down trees, left graffiti in the park, and even created new roads. Curt Sauer, the former Joshua Tree National Park superintendent, told The Palm Springs Desert Sun during a rally on Jan. 26 that the park's recovery will be a long process. “What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years," Sauer said to the outlet.

Joshua Tree is just one of the many national parks struggling to recuperate after the shutdown. If you wish to help mitigate these damages and restore the parks to their pre-shutdown state, check out the list below.

Donate To The Parks Restoration Fund

The Parks Restoration Fund was established by the National Park Foundation (NPF) during the shutdown as a way to start gathering funds to address post-shutdown damage. The NPF noted that donations will go toward assessing park damage and "provide [ing] the resources to coordinate projects such as natural habitat restoration, graffiti removal, and other volunteer efforts."

Sign Up To Volunteer

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the NPF are both coordinating volunteer services for park cleanup and other activities. You can sign up to receive volunteer information on either organization's website (the NPCA's volunteer link is here and the NPF's is here). You'll then get further information about local volunteer opportunities and on how you can most effectively contribute your time.

Visit With Extra Care

If you are planning on visiting a national park anytime soon (and always), make sure to clean up after yourself and be certain you don't leave any possessions behind in the park. This will help ensure that you don't further contribute to the park debris that accumulated during the shutdown.

Call Congress

Since the damage from the shutdown is quite extensive, some advocates are calling for Congress to allocate emergency supplemental appropriations to fund park cleanup and restoration. These advocates include Diane Regas, the president of The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit which advocates for park creation and land preservation. If you wish to contact your congressional representative and encourage them to support emergency funding for park restoration, you can find their contact information via

Support The Parks And Raise Awareness

In addition to taking your own steps to help the national parks recover, you can also encourage friends and family to do the same. Share news of the national parks' difficult post-shutdown recovery with those who aren't aware — and encourage them to donate their time and funds. Moreover, consider following the national parks' various social media accounts (and encouraging others to do the same) as a means of supporting the parks and staying abreast of their ongoing needs post-shutdown.

Overall, it's clear that the national parks will need a lot of support as they recover from the lengthy government shutdown. These steps represent some of the actions you can take to help get these treasured public lands back to their pre-shutdown status.