Govt' shutdown turns national parks into 'dumping grounds'

The National Parks are starting to feel the pressure of not being fully open, especially when it comes to the issue of restroom facilities. It all boils down to this: National Park or not, "When you gotta go, you gotta go." 

Muir Woods National Monument, a major National Park Service attraction, like virtually all National Park administered lands, remains open but with substantially reduced services and facilities. That seemed not to bother attendees who came on New Year's Eve. In fact the limited parking spaces were completely sold out for Monday. 

At the Muir Shuttle boarding area in Mill Valley, KTVU met the Morris's from San Diego.

"Muir Woods has kind of been that place where we're in touch with nature I guess you could say. So, though everything is not open, it's really the sights we're there to see," said one of the Morris'.  One of the young girls, when asked what matters to her and her family, said, "The trees."  

Many visitors at the park on Monday had made plans and reservations long ago.

"It was like a week before we were leaving and we're like, "Oh, maybe we can go to the park because of the shutdown." So, we had to look it up," said Hannah Schenk of Wisconsin. "This was kind of an important part of our trip, you know, spending that much time in the city. It's good to get out and get some open space and enjoy the outdoors here," said Elias Monty. "No, they're not confused about whether or not he park is open. They're confused about what facilities are available. So we have to explain to them that the restroom and the cafe are not available," said Brian Smith of shuttle bus operator MV Transportation.

The National Park Service web site says that restrooms in Yosemite are becoming a deal breaker.

"The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Hetch Hetchy, Wawona Campground, and Hodgdon Meadow Campground are "closed due to human waste issues" and lack of staffing. Translation, visitors are urinating and defecating on the sides of the road. 

To many folks, the politics of all this are annoying. "Yes it is. Yeah. We need to have the National parks as untamed or tampered with as possible, but to also make it realistic so that people can visit," said visitor Cecelia Morris. 

Smithsonian Institution facilities, some of the nation's most popular, will face closures if there's no resolution by January 2.