The Muslim youth group Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) is helping clean up national parks while the federal government is shut down.
“Within 49 hours, we rallied over 70 of our own Muslim youth, as well as non-Muslim volunteers to go out to Joshua Tree in California, Cuyahoga in Ohio,” explained AMYA national spokesperson Salaam Bhatti. “We had more volunteers in the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the Everglades, and as well as Independence Hall in Philadelphia.”
AMYA is one of the many groups volunteering its time to clean up the buildup of trash in national parks.
Much of the staff that keeps national parks running has been furloughed because of the partial government shutdown that started on December 22, 2018, resulting in damage to the parks.
“Thankfully, there were other groups who have been cleaning up the trash throughout the week,” Bhatti said. “Yet, at the same time, people continue to visit and so the trash keeps overflowing and unfortunately, people keep littering.”
Despite their current state, many parks remain open. The National Park Service (NPS), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, said on January 6 that it will start using visitor fees to keep the parks running. Such funds are generally used for future projects in parks and not basic maintenance.