Climbers: Help Public Lands During the Government Shutdown

As the government shutdown approaches the three-week mark, America’s public lands and their irreplaceable climbing areas are paying a steep price, having been left open without a plan for managing the impacts of thousands of visitors. Toilets are overflowing, trash is piling up, and public safety is at risk as emergency services, law enforcement, and critical maintenance have ceased or been severely limited—and we need climbers' help.


Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse listens to Rocky Mountain National Park employees and local residents about the effects of the government shutdown at a recent Town Hall meeting in Estes Park, CO.

Despite the heroic efforts of many well-intentioned volunteers, parks like Joshua Tree, Mt. Rainier, and Rocky Mountain may close due to resource impacts and road conditions. Although some parks may dip into entrance fee money to support a few basic services, this situation is unsustainable.

Two ways the climbing community can help

1. The President and Congress need to hear from you—use our easy letter-writing tool below. Many congressional representatives are eager to share their constituents’ stories about how the shutdown is affecting them and the impacts they are seeing in our National Parks and other public lands. Please take 5 minutes to use our easy letter-writing tool below and share your personal appeal with the President and your representatives. Tell them why the government needs to reopen and appropriately manage our public lands.

2. If you choose to visit public lands during the shutdown, be prepared. Services are severely limited, and your safety and the integrity of these amazing landscapes are at risk.

  • Choose your climbing objectives carefully & communicate your plans. Remember that search and rescue services are severely limited, so make sure to share your climbing plans with other people before you venture out.
  • Learn how to poop in a bag and pack it out. It’s not as gross as you might expect. Here’s a handy video that demystifies the process.
  • Pack out all trash. Make sure you’re prepared with a bag to pack out all trash.
  • Help others to act responsibly. Be an upstander, not a bystander. If you see others making unacceptable impacts, kindly share your minimum impact knowledge.

It is widely publicized that the shutdown has already resulted in expensive and measurable damages to our public natural resources, but other, less publicized impacts include the loss of critical data that is collected in our national parks to support ongoing science initiatives on climate change, endangered species, and visitor experience. Fuel reduction efforts that thwart dangerous wildfires have also halted.

This extended shutdown reminds us that our beloved national parks can’t run properly without the appropriate funding to maintain, manage, study and protect our public lands. Please tell the President and Congress to stand up for these amazing places.