AZ forests are filling with trash

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azdesertfather
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AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by azdesertfather » Aug 23 2009 6:42 am

Trash piling up in Arizona's forests
Workers can't keep up with visitors' 'pigsties'


by Glen Creno - Aug. 23, 2009
The Arizona Republic


Trash is piling up in Arizona's forests, left behind by sloppy hikers, campers and people who just use the land as a dumping ground.

Forest workers find cans, bottles, paper plates, diapers - anything that would go into a trash can or a recycling bin back home. Some people pick up their refuse and leave it behind in bags to be picked up. Workers don't have the time or the staff to keep up with it.

"Frankly, there are areas out there that are pigsties," said Paige Rockett, spokeswoman for the Tonto National Forest, nearly 3 million acres of desert, mountains, lakes and other terrain northeast of Phoenix.

In July, the Coconino National Forest posted a plea on Twitter for people to pick up after themselves. "Trash problem. Campers are leaving bags of trash and human waste for someone else to remove! Bury human waste and take trash to Dumpsters," the note said.

Brienne Magee, a spokeswoman for the northern Arizona forest, said some people deliberately don't pick up their garbage. Then there are those that put it in big garbage bags and leave them next to forest roads as though there's a scheduled service to pick them up.

There isn't.

And when people leave human waste in their bags, forest employees with hazardous-materials training have to be called to handle it. Magee said that takes workers away from their main duties, such things as responding to fires and building and maintaining trails.

"There isn't a trash crew on the forest," she said. "Any trash you create has to go out with you."

Officials say there are more people using the forests, so there's more trash. The Tonto also contends with graffiti and vandalism.

Rockett called the Tonto an "urban forest" since it's so close to metro Phoenix. It gets an estimated 5 million to 6 million visitors a year, she said.

Rockett said people also appear to be getting sloppier, more careless, in throwing around garbage. She said that since people pay a fee for certain access, they might see the forest like a sports stadium or a movie theater, where some people think that since they paid to get in, someone will come in and clean up after them, Rockett said.

She also said the "broken window" theory of littering and vandalism might apply. That's the idea that there is a pattern of decay in neighborhoods that can start with a single broken window or uncollected trash and that the people there get detached and don't want to take on the problem.

"People bring their urban ethics to the forest and just toss things," she said.

Then there are the dumpers, people who leave old appliances, batteries, junked cars, dead computers. Magee said she once saw a trashed-out campsite that had had pieces of an old vacuum cleaner.

"We will continue to move as fast as we can to pick these things up, but it shouldn't be there in the first place," she said.

Rob Mannhard of Goodyear says he camps, hunts and fishes in the state's forests and other public lands. Mannhard, owner of Trailhead Outdoors in Phoenix, said there's too much trash out there.

"It's really sad," he said. "Every time I stop to go through a gate, I stop to pick some up. . . . There's a lot out there, and the stuff I'm picking up is old."

Mannhard thinks that the people who camp and hunt and fish often aren't the problem. Instead, he said it's the weekend party crowd that is throwing around the most stuff.

The trash isn't just bad to look at. It can hurt wildlife. Some of it takes years to decompose if it does at all. Aluminum cans don't break down and some plastics take decades to do so, according to Web site Environmental Chemistry.com.

The Tonto has a hired company that picks up garbage in developed areas such as picnic and camping spots. One of the employees, Gabriel Guerrero of Glendale, said the garbage bins are overflowing even though the crews pick up five days a week.

He said he thinks the lakes are looking better these days with constant attention. But he said people still leave things such as beer and soda boxes, meat packages, diapers, underwear and sandals.

"Once they are done partying, they leave everything there," he said. "It's lucky they don't forget their kids there."

Tonto holds its 30th annual volunteer trash pickup on the Salt River in September. Lynda Breault, spokeswoman for Salt River Tubing & Recreation, said her company hands out garbage bags to people heading out on river tubing trips.

"We tell the public this is your public land and you need to take responsibility for yourself," she said.

Sheryl Yerkovich, recreation field supervisor at Tonto's Mesa Ranger District, said she was shocked by the piles of trash thrown in ditches, stuck under trees and pushed into crevasses in rocks when she started working in the district four years ago and still is.

"We just didn't and still don't understand why people would treat their environment in this way."
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau

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Jim_H
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Jim_H » Aug 23 2009 9:29 am

These are probably the same people who trash the areas they sled in, and it wouldn't surprise me if these are the same people who drive their cars, tracks and vans right into the forest and spend their camped time riding ATVs and having a huge fire all day.
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by azbackpackr » Aug 23 2009 5:22 pm

It's loathesome to me how many trashy people there are in this state. These people are ignorant, and have never learned how to care about their communities or parks, etc. They don't care and they don't want to learn to care, in my opinion. They also tend to breed and produce boatloads of kids to whom they teach nothing of value.
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dysfunction
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by dysfunction » Aug 23 2009 5:25 pm

It's not just this state...
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Jeffshadows » Aug 23 2009 5:29 pm

azbackpackr wrote:It's loathesome to me how many trashy people there are in this state. These people are ignorant, and have never learned how to care about their communities or parks, etc. They don't care and they don't want to learn to care, in my opinion. They also tend to breed and produce boatloads of kids to whom they teach nothing of value.
Hear, hear!!!
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azbackpackr
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by azbackpackr » Aug 24 2009 5:51 am

Same demographics, though. (See above.)
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
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dysfunction
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by dysfunction » Aug 24 2009 8:05 am

Is it sad when I was actually happily surprised at the lack of trash on the Baldy Loop this weekend? Really, was pretty clean.. even near the trail heads.
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Jeffshadows » Aug 24 2009 10:28 am

I used to try to haul as much of it out with me as I could; but, lately, I must just as well try to sweep sand off the beach. The Front Range trails in the Catalinas are becoming akin to the city parks in terms of wanton, senseless destruction and littering. I keep waiting for a meth head to hit me up at the trail head for $$ for gas to "get out of town" like they do in the city park parking lots...
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Aug 24 2009 11:26 am

Many years ago the area immediately around the bridge at Fish Creek Canyon and Apache Trail (the infamous highway 88) had so much trash that I decided to unofficially adopt it. It took me three trips and seven forty gallon trash bags (which does not include the old tires, carpet, metal signs and sign posts) to get the area presentable again. This did not include picking up the smaller pieces of broken glass which I did later over a period of time.

I would return about every two to three months to untrash the area which included using a rope, very long grappers and poles to get to, knock down or shoot down (22 rifle birdshot), and pick up all kinds of human debris. This include cigarette buts, broken glass and even once the silver ID tag from a cremation urn. Some persons ashes were poured off the bridge into the stream and whoever it was now lies in the bottom Canyon Lake!

Now that I rarely visit Arizona long enough to keep this practice up it has been since last September when Snakemarks and I picked up part of the Superstition Wrecking Crew at the bridge and returned them to their vehicles at Tortilla Trail Head, that the area was last cleaned. Thank you snakemarks for helping me with that. I suspect that all of you have your favorite trail, hike, canyon, etc. that you would like to see kept clean and presentable. Anyone wanting to takeover the area around Fish Creek Canyon your welcome to it. Just be very careful as it is difficult to clean the side hills without endangering yourself.

One time while picking up trash at the bottom of the Canyon just below the bridge, a lady on the bridge thanked me profusely for what I was doing and I told her to drop me a twenty dollar bill. She just rolled her eyes, grinned and walked away!. Another man witnessing me scurry up the side hill on the east side just downstream of the bridge stepped down to pick up a piece of trash that I missed. I missed that piece of trash on purpose because just climbing up that slope was dangerous enough. The slope there must be about fifty five degrees and I don't know what in the world he was thinking! He quickly turned around and dug in with both of his hands to stop himself but I knew that he would not be able to do so and would slide and then fall onto the rocks below. I quickly fell down on my stomach while grabbing the bottom of the road sign post with one hand and grabbing his wrist with the other and pulled him back up to the road. Had I not done so he would probably have been just another statistic of what not to do in the Superstitions.

Many tourists seeing me clean the area thought I was picking up rattle snakes and I just let them continue to think that. :D
Last edited by SuperstitionGuy on Aug 24 2009 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by berkforbes » Aug 24 2009 11:41 am

Its the same idiots out there tearing up every forest road and old jeep road on their quads. They have no true love for the wilderness, they see it as theirs, not everyones, and its their "god" given right to tear the S*** outta it.. just as previously stated, they drive around in quads all day going nowhere, drinking bud light in massive excess, and teaching their kids to S*** all over mother nature. its sad, and i would say something to them if them and their buddies werent going to pull out an arsenal of large caliber weapons (clearly representative of their tiny man-hood), instead of being rational and talking about things.

I remember as a kid my parents taking me and my sister to the forest, it was a learning experience, and a time to bond. not a time for mom and dad to get trashed and allow the forest to baby-sit me and my sister. (which is all i see when i drive around the rim.) k im dont ranting.
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by JimmyLyding » Aug 24 2009 11:54 am

It saddens me as well. I was camping at Knoll Lake over Memorial Day Weekend. It seems as if most of the people camping in the area, and there were far more of them camped outside the official campground, were interested in riding around on ATVs, Rangers, drinking, smoking, and shooting things. I saw numerous people squatting behind trees when I was driving down the road! Somehow I doubt they all cleaned up after themselves.
As for the littering part, I don't know how it can be stopped. There are already hefty fines if one gets caught, but one is more likely to see a sasquatch than get caught littering.
A few years ago, my buddy was driving us home from a night out drinking in Tempe. We were stopped at the railroad tracks, and the donkey in the car ahead of us threw his cigarette butt out the window. I was already ornery about something, and I got out of the car, picked up the cigarette butt, and threw it back in the guy's window while saying "you dropped something." Luckily he wasn't a vato loco, but I was pretty confident because Mr. Litterbug was driving a beat-up BMW.

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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by big_load » Aug 24 2009 1:20 pm

Last fall I assembled a photo album consisting only of coolers abandoned at Reavis Ranch. I found seven without looking very hard. My first hypothesis is that the horses are dying from lugging too many coolers. My second is that people are much more willing to carry a cooler that still has beer in it.
Last edited by big_load on Aug 24 2009 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Jeffshadows » Aug 24 2009 1:33 pm

I agree with both of you guys. 100%.

One critique: "Large Caliber" generally indicates something like a tank or recoilless rifle. Maybe what was meant was "High Power." Anyway, that aside, I am also saddened by all of the senseless shooting. Probably more so than others because I am a responsible firearms owner who considers marksmanship a skill that must be honed, maintained, and respected. Most of the people described by this thread couldn't even hit the paper my targets are printed on if they staggered right up to it. I encounter these types and they aggravate me to no end, as well. I'm all for licensing firearm ownership the same way we license drivers. In fact, I would be happy if the licensure process were even more rigorous and require regular re-demonstration of skill and responsibility.

The ATV problem is one that is easily solved; we just need to political will. It is not at all hard to make most trails and wilderness areas completely inhospitable to ATV and irresponsible OHV use. This one hits close to home for me, as well, since I am also a responsible OHV user who considers learning and honing technique, safety, and skill paramount to that activity. Most yahoos want to go out and break their junker so they can post what they did on YouTube. Cryptobiotic soil or endangered plant under their back tire be damned. Stopping them is the trick. They are loud. They are bullies at meetings. They intimidate most outdoor enthusiasts who are frequently pacifists. They go to places not easily patrolled. And, they don't care...

One of the best ways to protect some of these places we all enjoy so much is to make access more difficult. I secretly dream of the day that Catalina Highway succumbs to a massive landslide, though I know they would quickly fix it and probably even use it as an excuse to make it wider...
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by snakemarks » Aug 25 2009 9:45 am

SuperstitionGuy wrote: Now that I rarely visit Arizona long enough to keep this practice up it has been since last September when Snakemarks and I picked up part of the Superstition Wrecking Crew at the bridge and returned them to their vehicles at Tortilla Trail Head, that the area was last cleaned. Thank you snakemarks for helping me with that.
One time while picking up trash at the bottom of the Canyon just below the bridge, a lady on the bridge thanked me profusely for what I was doing and I told her to drop me a twenty dollar bill. She just rolled her eyes, grinned and walked away!.
Remember the three (probably underage) beer drinkers who arrived at the bridge just as we were finishing up? After watching us bag trash, they simply tossed their empties into the clean creekbed!

I am still speechless.
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by big_load » Aug 25 2009 9:51 am

snakemarks wrote:After watching us bag trash, they simply tossed their empties into the clean creekbed!
Bad apples unfortunately grow on trees. We're all part of the same big self-spoiling barrel.

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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Jeffshadows » Aug 25 2009 10:17 am

snakemarks wrote:
SuperstitionGuy wrote: Now that I rarely visit Arizona long enough to keep this practice up it has been since last September when Snakemarks and I picked up part of the Superstition Wrecking Crew at the bridge and returned them to their vehicles at Tortilla Trail Head, that the area was last cleaned. Thank you snakemarks for helping me with that.
One time while picking up trash at the bottom of the Canyon just below the bridge, a lady on the bridge thanked me profusely for what I was doing and I told her to drop me a twenty dollar bill. She just rolled her eyes, grinned and walked away!.
Remember the three (probably underage) beer drinkers who arrived at the bridge just as we were finishing up? After watching us bag trash, they simply tossed their empties into the clean creekbed!

I am still speechless.
A few months after the Aspen Fire when the highway reopened I was shocked to see a group of undesirables at Windy Point shooting off roman candles. I guess they figured the whole mountain had just gone up in flames so what more could possibly happen, right?! :?
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by BobP » Aug 25 2009 10:19 am

big_load wrote:Bad apples unfortunately grow on trees. We're all part of the same big self-spoiling barrel.
Spoiled apples in a barrel can become an amazing drink :sl:

I like Alexander Supertramp's quote..You're a super apple..all organic... :)
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by azbackpackr » Aug 25 2009 10:40 am

Coincidentally, I just five minutes ago finished picking up all the bad apples from under my green apple tree. I put them in the compost bin where they will rot and become a good soil additive so I can grow some more great veggies in my garden.

There's a message in there somewhere, perhaps...

In more news from the Redneck Alps, the Jersey milk cow next door is getting ready to calve any minute, I hope I don't miss the event!
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by snakemarks » Aug 25 2009 8:29 pm

big_load wrote:
snakemarks wrote:After watching us bag trash, they simply tossed their empties into the clean creekbed!
Bad apples unfortunately grow on trees. We're all part of the same big self-spoiling barrel.
What?!
I'm at home in the wilderness... it's civilization I have problems with! ](*,)

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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by nonot » Aug 26 2009 3:31 am

snakemarks wrote:
big_load wrote:
snakemarks wrote:After watching us bag trash, they simply tossed their empties into the clean creekbed!
Bad apples unfortunately grow on trees. We're all part of the same big self-spoiling barrel.
What?!
Like it's been said before, you often see parents bringing their kids out there, "teaching" them to behave like this, running around ATVs tearing stuff up, leaving garbage and diapers (disgusting) just lying around, carrying in stuff and just tossing garbage in the forest for someone else to clean up. Peope are freaking lazy these days, it's the whole carry in the full beer cans but can't pack out the empties, it's ridiculous and the forest service is right, they aren't the janitors of the world.

People need to be responsible for their own actions, however American culture, promoted by our lovely government and legal system has taught the opposite of personal responsibility. After all, there oughta be a law to make the government pick up trash, there oughta be a public program providing free services for everyone and everything, if the hospital doesn't save someone's life you deserve to sue for millions in payment, gimme a break.
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