If you’ve been to Joshua Tree National Park in southern California, it may have been to experience one of the best hiking and rock-climbing spots in the country. Or maybe you went to a sound bath in the Integratron, a dome structure built in the 1950s by an architect who said he was instructed to build it by visitors from Venus. (In which case: Jealous.) Or, if you’re like me, you’ve never been to Joshua Tree but you dream about it via Instagram accounts like @thejoshuatreehouse.
But there’s one thing most people know about Joshua Tree: the actual trees are amazing. With their spiky leaves and sharply angular branches, they have a stark, otherworldly beauty and create a landscape like no other.
But as the government shutdown drags on (it’s now the longest in American history), Joshua Tree National Park is operating with just a skeleton crew to take care of a land mass the size of Rhode Island—and some vandals have taken the opportunity to spray paint and cut down trees, The New York Times reported. (Yes, really. What’s wrong with people? I don’t know, I don’t know.)
With the shutdown affecting almost everything you eat and making air travel more dangerous (thanks to FDA, TSA, and air traffic control workers being furloughed or working without pay), you might question whether a bunch of fallen trees constitutes an emergency. But it doesn’t have to be an either-or thing. You can focus on the very real threats that the government going on auto-pilot could present to your everyday life, while also feeling the heartbreak of seeing joshua trees lying on the ground—so that an overeager (and over-entitled) camper could reach sensitive areas of the park that are normally off-limits.
It’s yet another reason to hope this government shutdown ends soon.
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