Volunteers help keep national park clean during shutdown

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — As the partial government shutdown continues, a group of volunteers traveled to Shenandoah National Park over the weekend to pick up trash left behind by visitors.

These group of hikers met up Sunday morning to enjoy the outdoors and help clean up parts of Shenandoah National Park.

The duty is usually assigned to employees of the park. However, while the park has not shut down to visitors, various services ceased on Dec. 22 due to a lack of federal funding.

The volunteers searched for overflowing trash cans and garbage lying on the ground.

"The national parks are a treasure. They're something we all appreciate," said Alleyn Harned, who organized the cleanup effort. "This is a chance to show our appreciation to enjoy it and also contribute back to it in this time of serious challenge"

Harned said the group may go back sometime next week to do another cleanup hike, but there is no way volunteers could replace a full park staff.

More than 20,000 national park employees across the country have been furloughed due to the shutdown, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior. An additional 3,200 were deemed essential.

The government shutdown was sparked by a $5 billion demand by President Donald Trump to build a border wall along the United States/Mexico border. Trump said he will consider declaring a national emergency to use existing funding for the project if Congress does not agree to his terms.