JOSHUA TREE, Calif. – The on-going government shutdown has forced federal officials to close Joshua Tree National Park.
Park spokesman George Land told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday that visitors will not be allowed to be at the park starting at 8 a.m. Thursday. He said the decision was made at the national level.
National parks have largely closed to the public since the shutdown began December 22.
“Without rangers on hand, visitors created new roads by driving off pavement and defacing the park’s namesake Joshua trees,” the LA Times reported.
Popular campgrounds had already been closed due to damage and sanitary issues. Anyone with camping reservations during the restricted dates will be refunded their money, LA Times reported.
Joshua Tree National Park covers 792,000 acres from Palm Springs to the town of Joshua Tree.
Park officials did not say how long the park would remain closed even after the shutdown ends as any damages would need to be repaired.