Government shutdown affecting the sanitary conditions at Point Reyes

The government shutdown is impacting services at Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County.

On Sunday, park officials announced unsanitary conditions and public safety concerns are prompting the park to close more of its facilities. On any given day, the park has about 80 to 90 employees. It’s now down to 8 to 10 people on duty who are mostly park rangers. 

The Shah family from Fremont is making the most out of their day trip to Point Reyes National Park. It was derailed a few times due to unexpected closures.

“The time with the family is good but it's not what we expected,” said Pratik Shah. “The kids were really excited for the lighthouse. They couldn't see the lighthouse. It was not what we expected. My mom is with me and she has to use the restroom and we had to go all the way back to Point Reyes Station.”

“Because the impact has gone on for a little while, we are finding a lot of significant problems due to human waste and public safety concerns,” said Point Reyes National Seashore Spokesman John Dell’Osso. 

With the lapse in federal funding, the park announced popular Palomarin parking lot and trailhead is now closed. Dirty restrooms there are creating a health hazard.

‘’You wouldn't want to deal with that,” said Rebecca Verity of Orinda. “The kids wanted to go to Alcatraz this week. The story there is the toilets are open but not being cleaned. A week’s worth of unclean toilets doesn't sound good.”

Drakes Beach is also closed to protect pregnant elephant seals and the public from aggressive male seals.

One couple from Honolulu had no idea Point Reyes was a national park and said they wouldn’t have visited had they known. 

“Just the uncertainty,” said Buddy Bess of Honolulu. “We are a little older now. We want to make sure we are safe.”

Other families are exploring the park on their own, knowing services are limited.

“We made sure we weren't relying on rangers for anything and we had our maps with us,” said Verity. 

Most visitors are disappointed and said the experience of Point Reyes isn’t quite the same. They are hoping the shutdown ends soon and the park can go back to normal.

“Totally irresponsible and it's very, very frustrating,” said Eric Hildum of Union City. “I’m very angry about what's going on in Washington.”

It’s also a busy time because of whale watching season, which can't happen at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Park staff are asking visitors if they can to throw out their trash to help keep the park clean.