I woke up and strolled out into my front yard and found shattered bottles. Slithers and chunks of glass strewed amongst my grass and flowers, glittering in the early sun. Eye catching in the most disappointing way…
I then ventured out further for a walk around the neighborhood and was surrounded by food wrappers and old weathered pages of newspapers softly crinkling in the breeze…
Disgusted, I continued on my walk only to see something even worse, soiled toilet paper stuck in holes and splattered on neighboring trees…
Where would you guess I live? Where would you guess I was walking?
I live in a National Forest.
While living in Coconino National Forest Darwin have noticed an astounding amount of human negligence. I have come across numerous camp spots where rocks and small boulders have been defaced. I am not just talking campfire chalk, I am literally meaning they have a new painted face. I have seen rocks painted with quotes, aliens and various abstract designs. Don’t get me wrong, I love art but painting random rocks in a Natural Forest is for one illegal and two appalling. A very unnatural part of nature now left to smirk and seemingly enlighten the next unsuspecting camper.
Besides defaced rocks and boulders here is a list of other litter I have found: Newspaper, toilet paper (it does not degrade if it’s not buried properly and regardless it does not degrade as quick as you think), a stupid amounts of broken glass bottles, 1 un-shattered glass bottle of Vodka, 1 shattered glass lantern, 1 completely untouched microwaveable dinner (not joking), 1 satchel/purse, 1 hypodermic needle, over 12 bottle caps, 2 bullet shells, 1 full sugar packet, numerous amounts of food wrappers, 2 beer cans, 1 toothbrush, 1 CO2 cartridge, and so many pieces of bits of paper I have lost count.
Amongst the litter, Darwin has come across a huge bonfire size campfire in a very clearly marked “No Campfire” area. He approached the camp of three men and asked if they knew they were in a no-burn area. One of the men started to say that campfire fires were allowed after a certain time, but Darwin cut him off. He strongly informed them that they were literally less than 100 feet from a sign that said “No Campfires”. The men just shrugged and said they would let it burn out. As soon as Darwin hiked just a half mile more to camp, we called the Forest Service. I think I may start recording Smokey the Bear talking about forest fires to play it in such situations…ridiculous!
Two days later we were driving into Flagstaff on a service road and came face to face with a fire truck parked right at the bottom of the road. We didn’t even have to pull over to see why the firemen were there, we saw smoke. Someone (not the same men from before) had dangerously left a smoldering fire abandoned.
I really don’t understand why people don’t care, why they don’t heed warnings and why they can’t follow simple rules set for their own protection and for the protection of the wilderness around them. Some of us feel entitled and above the laws of both man and of nature.
I have always been a little sensitive to these things and even more so now as we currently reside in a National Forest. Besides ranting about this what have I done/am I doing to help and no longer be apart of the problem?
1.) I personally have carried out two bags (thus far) of trash from in and around our campsite and will continue to do so. I want to make sure to leave this area of forest, better than what it was when we found it. I vow to continue to do this no matter what the trail and no matter where we camp.
2.) I refuse to just walk by anymore. When I notice that someone is littering, starting a fire in a no burn zone, going off into a regrowth area, etc. I am no longer the bystander, I will say something. Perhaps the person(s) are not familiar with the rules of the area, maybe they missed the sign, maybe somehow they do not know about Leave No Trace Principles, maybe they don’t know the story of Smokey the Bear…
3.) I am choosing to carry out all my toilet paper if I use it (I try to use pee rag if possible). I refuse to chance a toilet paper tulip! After seeing all the partially degraded toilet paper around our current campsite I am totally disgusted. I have picked up what I could and had to bury partially degraded toilet paper left behind by careless individuals. It takes longer then you think for toilet paper to break down and even longer when it is not buried.
These are only a few small ways that I am actively helping and no longer aiding in the problem. What are some other things you and I can do to help?
Check out the link to see more information on Leave No Trace Principles HERE
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts/Website Posts And Recent Other Doings:
Another Book Review Concerning the AZT! – Coming Soon!
Other Posts You May Have Missed:
Painted Blazes: Hiking the Appalachian Trail with Loner – Review
Random Thoughts and Happenings While Living in a National Forest…