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Joshua Tree park remaining open despite government shutdown

Posted at 8:53 AM, Jan 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-10 11:53:23-05

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — California's Joshua Tree National Park won't be closing because of the partial government shutdown after all.

The desert preserve had planned to close on Thursday. As with other national parks, lack of staff had led to problems with human waste, trash and environmental damage.

But on Wednesday, the National Park Service said it's freed enough money from recreation fees to prevent the closure of outdoor areas, although most visitor centers won't operate. Authorities say the money will allow them to bring back maintenance staff to deal with problems.

In addition some campgrounds, a road, trail and a picnic area that already are closed will reopen. Those sections were shut after some of the park's iconic Joshua trees were destroyed and off-roaders gauged new routes in the fragile desert.