A U.S. Park Ranger at Joshua Tree National Park. Photo: Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images

National parks are rushing to clean up trash and repair damage caused by visitors who created unauthorized trails and vandalized natural structures during the 35-day government shutdown, as another potential shutdown looms on Feb. 15, the AP reports.

Why it matters: Conservationists say damage to sensitive lands can take decades to recover — especially for vandalized Joshua trees, which are essential to the namesake national park's ecosystem and were cut down by visitors who drove into restricted areas while the park was unguarded. Even before the damage caused during the shutdown, national parks were dealing with approximately $12 billion worth of a maintenance backlog, a figure that is now set to grow.

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Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 12,607,510 — Total deaths: 562,338 — Total recoveries — 6,948,863Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 3,228,884 — Total deaths: 134,600 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
  3. Public health: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives" Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  4. Food: How the coronavirus pandemic boosted alternative meat.
  5. Sports: Charge of "money grab" by college football.
  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.

Supreme Court expands religious freedoms in schools, employment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Supreme Court ended its term with a series of rulings on religion's role in schools, the workplace and access to health care.

Why it matters: The decisions elevated protections for people and employers of faith, while curtailing those of religion teachers, the nonreligious taxpayer and women who rely on their workplaces' health care plans for contraception.