The Friends of the Smokies organization will begin paying the salaries of a handful of national park employees so that some bathrooms in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can reopen during the government shutdown. The organization says the park asked them to help after human waste was found outside bathrooms in Newfound Gap and Cades Cove.
Friends of the Smokies has committed between$15,000 and $18,000 to help pay the salaries of a handful of national park employees. This will keep the restrooms at the Cades Cove and Newfound Gap visitor centers open, and hopefully keep those sections of the park clean.
"We hope that everyone will be respectful of the park," said Jim Hart, President of Friends of the Smokies. "We would hope that everybody would leave no trace."
Park employees furloughed because of the shutdown can no longer wander the hundreds of miles of trails picking up trash left behind by visitors. The visitor centers and bathrooms are also closed, making for some real problems at more popular stops like Cades Cove and Newfound Gap.
"There had been some human degradation at both those locations and they will be maintained on a daily basis," said Hart. "They have asked us to help fund park employee’s salaries to keep the restrooms open at Newfound Gap and the Cades Cove visitor’s center."
Friday Friends of the Smokies announced they would pay the salaries of a handful of national park employees during the government shutdown so that restrooms at Newfound Gap and Cades Cove can reopen.
Friends of the Smokies says they will fund the salaries of government employees for at least two weeks, but are ready to help for longer if the shutdown continues.
"They will clean the restrooms and keep them open and available to park visitors," said Hart. "It’s very important that we are in a position that we can do this kind of thing for the park, and we will do anything they ask us to do."
Friends of the Smokies says the dumpsters and trash cans in the park are still being emptied. That’s because the park had a preexisting deal with a contractor before the government shutdown.