SF Public Works steps up to clear trash piles during shutdown in federal parks

In the midst of a government shutdown, San Francisco Public Works employees have been pitching in to keep the city’s federally run lands clean.

Earlier in the week, as the federal government neared the second week of a partial shutdown with no end in sight, Public Works crews emptied overflowing garbage cans and picked up stray trash at a handful of sites under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

On Wednesday and Thursday, crews began cleaning up the trash in or near some of the highly trafficked garbage cans at Lands End and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, said Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon. On Friday, they added Fort Funston trailheads into their rotation.

Public Works employees are adding the National Parks lands on top of their regular duties, Gordon said.

SHUTDOWN CONTINUES: Litter, human waste backing up in national parks

“At the end of the day, these national parklands are part of the San Francisco experience,” Gordon said by email. “Public Works is stepping up temporarily, as the shutdown continues, to help keep the areas clean and beautiful.”

Gordon encouraged visitors to federal lands to be extra mindful of the impacts of their garbage during the federal shutdown, and asked the public to consider a “pack-it-in, pack-it-out” model by disposing of trash they create at home.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said on Twitter she was incensed by the additional work the shutdown has created for city employees.

SHUTDOWN HEADS TO WEEK 3: Saturday talks, but not with Trump

“The federal government was already asking cities to cover for a lack of resources to build affordable housing and address homelessness, and now we’re picking up their trash too,” she wrote. “We don’t need a border wall, we need a functioning government.”

Many federal parks across the country are reaching a breaking point as the shutdown nears 14 days, forcing maintenance crews to sit on the sidelines until the government reaches an agreement. On a visit to Yosemite National Park this week, the San Francisco Chronicle observed trash spilling over the tops of waste bins, roadsides turned into makeshift toilets, and cars parked on forest floors.

MORE SHUTDOWN NEWS: Yosemite restricts park access through southern entrance

Some park administrators have begun closing federal land to protect the sites as they await a resolution in the impasse between President Trump and Congress over funding for a border wall.

“Each day there is going to be increased consequences,” Jon Jarvis told the Chronicle. Jarvis is the former National Park Service director under President Obama, who helped make the decision to completely close the parks during a 16-day government closure in 2013.

“We had a lot of discussion about it then,” he continued. “We felt we could not achieve our stewardship responsibility by leaving the parks open.”

Yosemite National Park announced new access limitations on Wednesday due to problems with human waste and damage to resources. The park said rangers will staff a checkpoint from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the south entrance reached via Highway 41 and only those with lodging or camping reservations in the park will be allowed to proceed.

On Friday, officials said Muir Woods National Monument would halt operations starting Monday due to limited staff to clean the grounds and maintain the restrooms. People with parking or shuttle reservations for the park during the closure would be refunded, officials said.

San Francisco Chronicle staff writers Kurtis Alexander, Peter Fimrite, and Ashley McBride contributed to this report.

Read Michelle Robertson’s latest stories and send her news tips at mrobertson@sfchronicle.com.

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This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/ggnra-nps-trash-feces-overflowing-public-works-13509352.php.

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