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Nonprofit Staff And Tour Guides Are Keeping South Florida National Parks Clean

Miami Herald
Cyclists ride their bikes in Shark Valley in Everglades National Park.

In national parks around the country left understaffed by the government shutdown, trash is piling up, bathrooms are overflowing and visitors are running amok.

But not in South Florida.

Thanks to a small army of nonprofit staffers and the private companies that do business in South Florida’s four national park lands, a handful of visitor centers remain open and garbage is being collected.

At Everglades National Park, one of the most visited in the nation, “the parks are open, the concessions are operating and the Everglades Association is staffing visitor centers,” South Florida National Parks Trust executive director Don Finefrock said in an email.

During the last government shutdown in 2016, visitors’ centers at the parks were closed. This year, the government allowed them to remain open as long as they don’t use government resources or personnel.

“That’s where we step in,” said Jim Sutton, executive director of the nonprofit Florida National Parks Association. “We’ll never be able to replace [the park rangers], but we try very hard to accommodate the visitors.”

Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald