Though the partial government shutdown is over, its negative impact on the country lingers. The Congressional Budget Office projects a reduction in economic growth as a result of the shutdown. This forecast stems from a number of factors, including the decreased consumer spending of federal employees who went a month without pay and the disruption of government contracts, which affected the spending capacity of innumerable private sector workers.

The shutdown also hurt public lands. Curt Sauer, the former head of Joshua Tree national park, explained the extent of the damage in an interview with The Guardian: “What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years.”

Without rangers and National Park Service staff to protect and maintain parks, trails fell into extreme disrepair and vandals damaged priceless plant life. Leading up to the shutdown, experts projected that federally owned public lands needed around $12 billion worth of investments in order to pay for conservation efforts and badly needed repairs. That cost has since grown dramatically.

You can make a difference. The National Park Foundation launched a campaign called the Parks Restoration Fund that seeks donations in order to reverse the damage caused by the shutdown. While it is the responsibility of elected leaders to address the harm inflicted on national parks by their lack of leadership, everyday citizens can help jump start the restoration process. Consider donating to the fund today.

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