WASHINGTON—With their current condition "marginally breathtaking at best," America's national parks will be closed this week for their exhaustive annual cleaning and remajestification, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced Monday.
"It's that time of year again when we roll up our sleeves and begin the painstaking task of resplendoring our parks," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. "After a long off-season, the foliage has grown lackluster, our mountain streams have lost their crystal clarity, and even the sparrows' songs are flat and desultory. So please excuse the noise and dust as we prepare our country's scenic wonders for their grand reopening on Memorial Day."
Each year, all 84.4 million acres of land overseen by the National Park Service are thoroughly scrubbed, tidied, and restored to a maximally picturesque summertime state. According to officials, the weeklong process includes extensive brook re-babbling, the application of new bark to some 37,000 giant redwood trees, litter removal, and the sharpening and re-snowcapping of every peak in the Rockies.
In addition, some 4.7 billion stones will be polished to their original sheen, and more than 23 million species of indigenous wildlife will be washed and primped by hand.
At Yosemite, officials have been dispatched to reposition the necks of swans for optimal poise and grace, while rangers at the park have been instructed to "get out there and comb those bears."
"People don't realize how quickly the beauty and enchantment of these places gets depleted," Walter McCoy, a ranger at Maine's Acadia National Park, said as he pulled up last year's carpet of pine needles and laid down a fresh one. "Tourists come here, they ooh and they aah, and before you know it, all the majesty gets used up."
McCoy added that by August his crew is usually forced to discharge canisters of scented evergreen into the breeze to induce an adequate sense of calm and wonderment.
The annual program began in 1947, when Congress established a $400 million fund "for restoring the majesty of America's natural heritage so often as it becomes necessary." Initially, expenditures were limited to sky-bluification and the regoldenizing of sunsets, but today the budget cover dozens of projects: specialized tools to sharpen moose antlers, spray tanks to enhance the mists surrounding waterfalls and the beads of moisture that appear on spiderwebs, and miniature loofahs for buffing blades of grass.
Sources confirmed the U.S. government makes $30 million each year licensing its proprietary morning-dew recipe to other nations, earnings it then devotes toward modernizing the infrastructure of America's natural beauty.
"These meadows aren't going to sun-dapple themselves," Sequoia National Park superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich told reporters Monday. "Just today, I was on Moro Rock looking at the Western Divide and the resplendence factor was maybe three out of 10—hardly jaw-dropping awe."
"Keep scrubbing, and get between those crags!" Taylor-Goodrich then shouted through a megaphone at a team of rangers washing the face of Mount Whitney while suspended from helicopters. "I want it to look like the postcard."
Regular patrons of the nation's parks said they were looking forward to the reopening, complaining that by late spring, the deteriorated grandeur makes it impossible to experience any kind of tranquility in nature.
"The grizzlies reek of hibernation, there's no fog left in the gorges, and the buffalo only roam when they absolutely need to be somewhere," said Ken Brunswick of Jackson, WY, a restaurateur and outdoorsman. "I sure wouldn't want to be the one to drain Old Faithful and clean the trap, but I'm glad someone is doing it."
But many citizens interviewed for this story argued that remajestification is a waste of federal tax dollars, saying they resented being "shaken down by the IRS to polish some eagle's beak" and that wolves should "just pick the brambles out of their own goddamn fur."
National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis said many Americans take their country's natural beauty for granted and imagine that it is somehow self-maintaining.
"Do you have any idea how hard it is to preserve a forest canopy?" Jarvis said. "To hang that many pinecones and dig all those holes where the roots go? Even getting the leaves to stay on is something we struggle with nearly every year."
Added Jarvis, "The kinds of resources we need to make that happen don't just grow on trees."