In recent years, recreation visits have steadily increased on national forests… and the problem of discarded trash sometimes seems to have increased exponentially with the increase in visitors.
KMTR-TV 16 helped staff remind western and central Oregon communities. that trash dumping isn’t welcome on the Willamette National Forest or any other public lands.
The story aired a few days before Independence Day holiday, an especially busy time for recreational visits to National Forests all around the country.
Many forest visitors have heard frequent admonitions from federal, state and local agencies – as well as environmental advocates – to “leave no trace.” But many still fail to realize that discarded trash isn’t just a nuisance; it can be an environmental hazard, threaten wildlife health and safety, and even have adverse impacts on human health.
Phosphorous-heavy soaps and detergents can foster algae and microbe growth – which can result in algae blooms that irritate eyes and skin for humans and wildlife, or other algae growth that trap oxygen needed by fish when it decomposes in the lakes and streams where they live.
Pet waste may carry parasites or microbes that are deadly to wildlife.
And while all trash litters the natural landscapes others come to the forest to enjoy, some creates health and safety hazards for those who encounter it – while also creating many hours of work for volunteers and federal land managers who must train for, plan, and conduct a safe and thorough clean-up of the affected area when such dumping occurs.