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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Jeffshadows
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Jeffshadows » Aug 26 2009 8:22 am

nonot wrote:
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.
It's worse than you think. Since the advent of the EMTALA Act, hospitals and some EMS providers have no choice but to babysit the mentally ill and give almost any junkie who wants one a temporary fix. Like most of what you were talking about (Which I agree with, BTW), a lot of these programs were rooted in well-meaning ideas that have become perverted and corrupted over time...
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JFRanch
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by JFRanch » Jan 02 2010 9:05 pm

You should contact the Forest Service with your concerns. The more complaints they get about ATV goers and the trash left by shooters, the more they will have to start doing something about it. They are in the process (have been for 6 years now) in trying to control road management. Their plan is supposed to go in effect this year but with the way the FS goes it might be a few more years. The shooters are the most common cause for the trash being left behind. I have tons of photos with bottles and TVs and various other items shot up. My family even watched two shooters shoot the top off a Saguaro cactus in front of our house. We took pictures and the Sheriff's dept. caught them down the road. Unfortunately, the FS didn't do anything about it even though they caught them red-handed. The FS is supposed to be shutting down part of the Tonto to shooting due to the neglect of shooters not being responsible. It is really unsafe to be out there on a weekend. I personally have been shot at a few times due to the shooter not taking precautions and making sure they had a back stop. I really hate that they have to take that privilege away but the shooters have proven that they can't handle using the forest responsively by leaving there targets and broken bottles everywhere. I run into many hikers that say they are not coming back because of this. I have told them to contact the FS with their concerns. If anyone here has concerns, they should contact them too. The FS does have time to come out and pick up trash even though they say they don't. Here is a recent photo of some trash left by shooters.
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snakemarks
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by snakemarks » Jan 03 2010 8:01 am

I agree with you that the shooters have much to do with the trash out there and you likely have better insight than most of us here, as this actually IS your backyard. Shooters haul in what is already trash, blow it to bits and leave it lie. And, when the shooters ride in on ATV's, they give all the ATVers a bad rep. You can tell who they are - they're the ones with rifles and a 12-pack strapped on back (always a winning combination!)

What is the best way to contact the FS? They claim to always need volunteers, yet I have put in applications (for any and all lowly positions, including trash pick-up), but I never hear from them. Do they not even have enough time or manpower to contact someone who is offering to do dirty work for *FREE?

*I do it anyway, but I don't necessarily know where it is needed the most.
I'm at home in the wilderness... it's civilization I have problems with! ](*,)

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azbackpackr
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by azbackpackr » Jan 03 2010 8:39 am

The Forest Service seems to use volunteers only when working with a conservation club, etc., and I get the idea it is due to liability issues. When a club I belong to does trail work, for example, they must have a paid FS employee on hand, and that employee is the only one who can wield the chain saw.

My impression is, in talking with them here in Springerville, that if you go out on your own and pick up trash, which I do, or maintain the sadly tattered hikers' sign-in logs at trailheads, by providing a brand-new 3-ring binder and copying off the sign-in sheets, which I also do, that they are very appreciative. But they don't seem to want it to be official.
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PaleoRob
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by PaleoRob » Jan 03 2010 9:15 am

Saw the same sort of behavior when I was with the PFund. Saddens and sickens me. :(
JeffMacE wrote: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...
I think this nails it right there.
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snakemarks
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by snakemarks » Jan 03 2010 9:24 am

azbackpackr wrote:My impression is, in talking with them here in Springerville, that if you go out on your own and pick up trash, which I do, or maintain the sadly tattered hikers' sign-in logs at trailheads, by providing a brand-new 3-ring binder and copying off the sign-in sheets, which I also do, that they are very appreciative. But they don't seem to want it to be official.
Yes, I guess that makes sense... liability. Too many people who blame (and sue) others for (to profit from) their own stupidity or carelessness. :(
I'm at home in the wilderness... it's civilization I have problems with! ](*,)

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fairweather8588
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by fairweather8588 » Jan 03 2010 11:50 am

I've filled up the back of my jeep with trash left from others after going out to shoot with friends, and usually it even fails to make a scratch on the area (even more reason to attend the four peaks pickup) however we did fashion some sweet shotgun shell christmas lights
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JFRanch
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by JFRanch » Jan 03 2010 1:29 pm

The district ranger would be the best person to contact. There are many different ones for different areas. The Mesa District Ranger for the Tonto is for where I am at.
His e-mail is: awirtz@fs.fed.us
There are only phone numbers on the FS website, but I know people like to e-mail better. They obviously know that.

We took an empty horse trailer down from the JF Ranch all the way to our house and filled it full with trash just from the side of the road. It only put a dent in the trash unfortunately. It was mainly shot up stuff. I see the FS law enforcement out here maybe once a month, if that. If at least they could drive by on weekends it would make people more aware that there are rules. They didn't even come out much when fire restrictions were on and someone was shooting and caught a few acres on fire. Definitely let the FS know your concerns if you have any. The more people that contact them, the more pressure it puts on them to do something about it. Check their website to for meetings about public issues they are having. It's a great place to put in your input.

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Sredfield
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Sredfield » Jan 03 2010 3:27 pm

snakemarks wrote:Yes, I guess that makes sense... liability. Too many people who blame (and sue) others for (to profit from) their own stupidity or carelessness. :(
Most of us wouldn't believe what the government gets sued over, and why it is often cheaper to settle than to fight it.

I also agree with JFRanch as to the importance of keeping the pressure on the agencies--in writing and in responses at public meetings. That is what they react too. After all, they are just doing the citizenry's bidding, and the citizenry that skeeks the loudest gets heard.
Shawn
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chumley
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by chumley » Jan 11 2010 4:22 pm

Here's an officially sanctioned trash/cleanup event. Just in case you have an hour or two to spare, its Saturday, February 6th, 9am-3pm. Beeline Hwy and Four Peaks Road.

If nothing else, take the time to recognize the sponsors of this cleanup and consider supporting them.

More info at http://fourpeakspickup.blogspot.com/
Profound observer

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Jeffshadows
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Jeffshadows » Jan 12 2010 2:05 pm

...When I originally saw the title of this thread I thought it might be a reference to some of the people down here who frequent the Redington pass area... :sl:
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nobert15
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by nobert15 » Jan 14 2010 6:41 pm

My fiancee and my self will be there at the Four Peaks Pickup. I'm trying to get some more people from work to help out too.

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rushthezeppelin
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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by rushthezeppelin » Jan 31 2010 1:46 pm

I just kayaked the lower salt yesterday and the storms probably cleared out alot of trash from the goldfields. It was insane, the area between the bush hwy bridge and the last tuber pull in was like looking at a city block with all their clothes hung out to dry :?

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Re: AZ forests are filling with trash

Post by Matt787 » Aug 29 2010 3:11 pm

Just remember it's easier to place blame than deal with the problem. It is the issue we will always face in a free society, some will act selfishly. What really needs to be done is a mass effort to educate the youth, increase public awareness, get more hikers out there so shooters and litterbugs won't feel so comfortable leaving their junk, and finally get out there and clean.

My family hunts, takes out our ATV's, shoots, camps.... but we do it responsibly. We clean up our brass (and others) travel only on designated roads, leave no trace when camping. People need to realize the impact of their actions. Some will never see the era of their ways but that is where clean-up comes in. Just some thoughts.
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