AWOL's Guide to Getting Outside During the Government Shutdown
UPDATE! The Government has been reopened, but there is still some level of uncertainty whether or not it will be closed again. This Article still shares good info for being a better steward of the outdoors. Read on and enjoy!
The government shutdown is causing a lot of drama and real-world struggles for many Americans right now and the impact will linger even after it ends. Many outdoor hotspots sit on national/federal land which is currently going unmanned and unmaintained. If you're planning some time outside, here are a few tips to help you get outdoors without putting more stress on these areas and the natural habitats while they're being unsupervised.
1. Give some love to local, county, and state parks: You'll be surprised how much adventure your local, county, and state parks can offer and visiting these parks will really help take the pressure off our national lands for the time being.
2. If you must go to National Land, pack it in, and pack it out. And we mean everything💩: Although some areas are locked up and gated, most national and federal land is still accessible during the shutdown. If you must head out into these areas, become a superstar of leave no trace. Everything you take in, bring back out with you, including your "business." And if at all possible, leave any sites or areas you play in better than you found it.
3. Lend a helping hand: Again, if you must head out into national lands, if you have the tools or the time, help make things cleaner or safer for the next person. This can be, carrying an extra trash bag to pick up garbage along the way or emptying a waste bins that are overflowing near trailheads, campsites, or parking lots. You can also step it up a notch by taking a hatchet or small saw along with you and cutting any small trees or limbs that you find obstructing trails or roads.
Just remember!!! Don't do anything that might be dangerous to you or others even if you mean well. Safety crews are on short supply right now so if you get hurt in the woods, it might take much longer for someone to come help.
4. Share Mindful Outdoors'ing With Friends and Strangers: Not everyone is educated or experienced in leave no trace or low impact adventuring so if you have the knowledge, share it with as many people as you can. Our natural areas are more vulnerable than you think so without federal workers standing guards, things could get bad, quick. It's our job to have mother natures back until those who work to keep these places clean and safe for us to use are able to return to work. And even then, we should be doing our part to help take care and protect our natural playgrounds so generations from now, they too can enjoy the same outdoor places we do.
5. Don’t Rush In Once Things Open Back Up: Even once the government reopens, national parks aren’t going to be 100% right away. We encouraging you to revert to tip #1 on our list and keep opting for other outdoor destinations for a few weeks. This will give federal employees time to assess their parks, play catch up with maintenance, and whatever else they may have to do after being furloughed for over a month now.