GARDINER - The impacts of the partial government shutdown continue throughout the country, and with national parks still open to the public, that means trash piling up and roads not being groomed.
As news continues to grow of parks throughout the country closing due to overflowing trashcans, human waste on the side of the road, and worse, Montanans are joining forces to keep the nation's oldest park from a similar fate.
"I was sitting in my buddy's bar," says Chuck Tanner, owner of K-Bar in Gardiner, "and we keep hearing everybody complaining about 'trash here,' and 'trash there,' and it piling up in the national parks. I kind of called a couple of my friends out on it and said 'Well, let's do something about it.'"
In a matter of days, Tanner organized two cleanups of Yellowstone National Park over the weekend, drawing in more than 50 people from beyond the big sky to help the cause.
"You know, put up or shut up," he says, smiling.
People drove from as far as Billings and Idaho Falls to assist in the cleanup and join the small community Tanner formed through the work.
"This is like a late Christmas present," Tanner says. He's gotten phone calls and emails from people offering to buy a pizza or a round of drinks for the group, or send toilet paper or trash bags.
And it's not just residents. Private businesses are stepping up to keep tourists coming as they pay park employees out-of-pocket to keep roads groomed for snowmobiling.
According to Back Country Adventures, a snowmobile rental service in West Yellowstone, concessionaires and businesses associated with the park came up with a contingency plan during last January's government shutdown to ensure that business could continue no matter what happened in D.C. The representative from Back Country Adventures says every company with business in the park - throughout Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana - is involved, including Xanterra, the park and resort management company that runs the hotels and shops inside Yellowstone.
"We have a lot of pride in this area," explains Tanner, a Southern California native who has made the Paradise Valley his home over the last decade and a half. "It's the last great place in North America as far as I'm concerned, so we're trying to keep it that way. Everybody wants to be here. But we are here, so we just take care of it."
And if the shutdown continues for another few weeks, both residents and businesses will need to keep showing up.
President Donald Trump remarked on the shutdown entering its third week on Sunday, telling the press: "We'll see how long this shutdown goes. The shutdown could end tomorrow and it could also go on for a long time. It depends. It's really dependent on the Democrats." The shutdown began December 21 as a result of stalled negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over funding for the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.