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Opinion

Readers React: We need troops guarding national parks during a government shutdown, not our border

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Park ranger Jessie Wi greets a visitor at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 26, the day it fully reopened after the government shutdown.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I have lived in California my whole life (90 years) and have visited almost every one of our fabulous national parks. Your article about the terrible damage inflicted on Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks during the partial government shutdown was more than disgusting.

My wish is that someone would put President Trump on his airplane and fly him to California to see the damage that was caused during his useless shutdown.

The next time he has a tantrum, the troops on our southern border should be moved to each national park for protection. If that’s not possible, the citizens who aren’t causing destruction to these places should take it upon themselves to protect the parks.

Pollyanna Schneider, Hermosa Beach

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To the editor: Reading about the abuse of California’s national parks during the government shutdown sickened me. There was vandalism at Joshua Tree, damage at Death Valley caused by off-road vehicles, and garbage accumulation in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite.

My wife and I visited the Big Island in Hawaii during the government shutdown. Although Hawaii Volcanoes National Park had no rangers on site, there were volunteers outside the visitor’s center providing information about the park and what trails were available to hike.

Somehow they got keys to the restrooms so we had access to the toilets. They also cleaned the bathrooms and hauled trash away in their personal vehicles each day. Although the visitors center was closed, the rest of the park was open.

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Thanks to these volunteers, there was no abuse to the park that we could see, and the many visitors enjoyed a great experience.

Lee Goldenberg, Nipomo

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To the editor: Those who defiled the parks with their human waste must be held accountable. The National Park Service should announce that the material will be tested for DNA, with prosecutions to follow identification, but those who come forward voluntarily and agree to perform some community service will not be prosecuted.

I suspect that many of the miscreants will opt to avoid the criminal process, and the parks will benefit from some free extra hands whittling down the maintenance backlog.

Alan B. Posner, Santa Barbara

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