Either the National Park Service is lazy, understaffed, or the number of people who visit the National Mall has increased exponentially, because the Mall’s trash bins are overflowing with garbage.
Trash has accumulated near important monuments like the Lincoln Memorial to the point that foreign visitors are repelled. Frank Sicking, visiting the Mall from Dusseldorf, Germany for the third time, told WTOP, “It’s terrible. There’s lots of trash all over lying here. Nothing that should be in this nice place. What I expect was to see all of these beautiful buildings and all of the parks here and that they are all in good condition … people throw away all of these things around the baskets and the birds pick it up; it looks like a trash field.”
Two local visitors, Mike McDonald and M.J. Levy, were disheartened, too, as they arrived early in the morning. McDonald asserted, “It’s a little disappointing. This is America’s Mall right here, and it should be kept up a little nicer.” Referring to the wrappers and bottles scattered about, he added, “That’s the first thing that you see and notice. The sun comes up and it’s just trash.”
As McDonald and Levy spoke to WTOP, a rat jumped out of the trash. McDonald said bitterly, “I don’t know what type of message this sends to people coming in here. For a city that’s supposed to be up and coming, it kind of makes you wonder what that image is.”
Levy pointed out, “My momma used to always say, being from the South in Georgia, if you can’t respect yourself that you can’t keep up your house, how are people going to respect you when they come to visit you?”
National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst argued, “Busy seasons like this, we do run split schedules. We’ve got guys that come in early. We’ve got a second crew that comes in midday so that there is double coverage during the heaviest time and then we have coverage on into the evening.”
The National Park Service Maintenance Backlog has risen steadily since Barack Obama took office, growing by roughly 13%. The National Park Service cut its budget by 5% in 2013, hiring roughly 1,000 fewer seasonal employees during the summer season.