Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week. It hasn’t been a very good week for National Parks and the plants and animals that live in them. That’s because the government shutdown continues. Many parks around the country are closed, but some remain open. Many of the parks that are open are suffering because of the lack of employees working at the park. Parks are being vandalized and trash is piling up. Sadly, vandals have even killed trees at Joshua Tree National Park. There are other effects of the shutdown too. Because government employees are not allowed to report to work, wildlife conservation and research has been put on hold. That means that government research on White-Nose Syndrome in bats has been halted. Luckily, not all government work has stopped. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has halted construction on 16 miles of Oklahoma Highway 16 between the town of Okay and the city of Wagoner. The work has been stopped to give investigators time to determine whether the construction will affect endangered Gray Bats in the area. Research is needed to determine whether or not sediment from the road construction has been affecting the quality of the water in the area. This could reduce the number of insects in the area, which would affect the bat’s ability to find food. If you would like to read more about this, you can find information here. I hope everyone has a good week. And, please, if you are fortunate enough to be allowed onto National Park land during this shutdown, take care of our parks. Please pick up your trash, stay on trails, and respect the plants and animals who live there.