The partial government shutdown has led to a number of problems throughout the country since its implementation more than four weeks ago. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted, from state employees to people who want to enjoy our national parks.
Countless parks throughout the country have reported increasing levels of litter, vandalism, and illegal activities as a result. With the startlingly small number of employees available to keep the parks in good condition, many are getting worse without volunteer intervention.
However, one national park isn’t following the national trend.
The Rocky Mountain National Park had a line of more than 16 volunteers lined up at the park’s entrance to help clean up the area. But when they arrived, they were greeted with clean bathrooms, very little litter, and working facilities.
There was a variety of contributing factors to the park’s cleanliness, but none so heart-warming as the efforts made by other volunteer groups.
According to volunteer organizer Jason Moore, other groups have been cleaning the park throughout the shutdown. Another volunteer group that ventured to clean the Longs Peak trailhead was met with a similar scene: practically no litter and near-immaculate conditions.
Young and old, busy or bored, volunteers from throughout the state have been helping in a number of ways during the government shutdown. Along with cleaning our national parks, restless employees affected by the shutdown have reached out to volunteer centers and food pantries to help people in need.
It’s estimated that over 50% of adults aged 65 and older participate in volunteer work, but now it’s the furloughed government employees who are hoping to make a difference during the shutdown.
Justin Wright was one of those people. A side-lined computer programmer for the U.S. Geological Survey, Wright grew tired of doing nothing.
“I felt like I needed to get out and help do something. I googled places in Lakewood that have volunteer opportunities and sent an email,” he said in an interview with CBS.
“Everyone else is just like me and you just wish you could go back to work. But we’re kind of stuck and there’s really not much we can do. I’m hoping to come in regularly until I hear something different about the whole shutdown.”
As the government shutdown continues, CBS suggests that more volunteers will likely follow Wright’s lead.