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Joshua Tree National Park won’t be closing after all

Joshua Tree National Park won’t be closing after all
A rock climber Wednesday rappels down a rock face at Joshua Tree National Park. The park will not close to visitors as planned Thursday, thanks to federal funds being used for cleanup and repair. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Joshua Tree National Park will avoid a temporary closure set for Thursday and will reopen areas of the park that were closed because of the partial government shutdown, a park statement said Wednesday.

Officials said the park used recreation fees, specifically Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement funds, to clean up trash and overflowing toilets, and to reopen campgrounds for overnight stays. Besides sanitation problems, parts of the park suffered damage when some visitors went off-roading in sensitive areas and others defaced Joshua trees.

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Volunteers had been working to keep the park clean and repaired during the shutdown that began Dec. 22. Joshua Tree park officials said their efforts “have contributed significantly” to the reopening of bathrooms and campgrounds. Now the newly tapped federal funds will continue to help.

“The park will also bring on additional staff to ensure the protection of park resources and mitigate some of the damage that has occurred during the lapse of appropriations,” the statement said.

Several areas that were closed will reopen Thursday, including Lost Horse Mine Road and Trail, Key’s View Road and Rattlesnake Canyon Picnic Area and Road.

Also, visitors will find the Joshua Tree Visitor Center at 6554 Park Blvd. in Joshua Tree open because it is owned and operated by the nonprofit Joshua Tree National Park Assn.

Four visitor centers inside the park will remain closed, and entrance fees won’t be collected.

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