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The famed Joshua Tree National Park was forced to temporarily close its doors this week amid a spate of vandalism and sanitation issues that occurred in perpetuation of the government's now 21 day shutdown.
For more than two weeks, dedicated volunteers and a drastically reduced staff-force worked around the clock to keep the park in pristine condition.
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But day 18 of the shutdown appeared to be breaking point as vandals tore down several of the park's revered Joshua trees.
Images of broken branches and dilapidated tree stumps caused an outcry on social media.
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Illegal campers and unruly visitors also destroyed the park's floor by driving off of the designated paths to craft their own roadways - knocking over Joshua trees in the process.
'While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree do so in a responsible manner, there have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua Trees in recent days,' said spokesman for the park, George Land.
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Land said the partial government shutdown has left the park's workforce with only eight rangers to cover the 800,000 acre park.
Parks nationwide have struggled to deal with similar issues varying from incessant littering and overflowing public restrooms, to the rife vandalism of habitats.
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'I've been at a national park for every one of these shutdowns, so I know that there's a possibility they're going to happen and we tried to prepare for them,' David Blacker, the Death Valley Natural History Association's executive director, said.
'We weren't quite prepared for one to last this long.'
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Implications of the vandalism could last long after the governments closure, warned David Lamford, a director at the National Parks Conversations Association.
Lamford believes the man-made destruction could have a catastrophic knock-on effect.
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