EVI Acts: Trash on trails, in national parks a serious effect of COVID-19


Outdoor sports including hiking have become increasingly popular over the last several years thanks to Instagram making "gram worthy" spots more easily accessible to those who are otherwise not the outdoorsy type. Enter COVID-19 and you have more people outside than ever and most importantly, people who do not abide by the unspoken (or frequently spoken depending on which Facebook hiking groups you belong to) rule about LEAVE NO TRACE. This means everything you pack in, you pack out. If you are going to be taking the time to adventure in the great outdoors, please read up on the importance of "packing in, packing out" and don't head out to the trails unprepared. Maybe consider bringing an extra trash bag while you're at it.


Here's a disturbing number of articles regarding the trash people have left behind this year:

  1. (MAINE) Appalachian Trail hikers in Maine reminded to pick up their trash

  2. (TEXAS) Trinity River trash buildup was already a huge challenge. COVID-19 hasn't helped.

  3. (WASHINGTON) Seeking escape from COVID-19, visitors to state trail's, parks leave loads of trash

  4. (VIRGINIA) Volunteers pick up trash in Lynchburg parks, trails

  5. (IDAHO) Amid pandemic boom, rangers grapple with excess litter, trail waste

  6. (OREGON) 'Disregard for our state'; Trash, human waste left along Oregon coastal and forest trails

  7. (SOUTH CAROLINA) Litter clean-ups finding more masks among the trash

  8. (NEW HAMPSHIRE) More than 100 volunteers cart trash out of White Mountain National Forest

  9. (COLORADO) More hikers, more problems: Keeping our Colorado trails beautiful during a hiking surge

  10. (MICHIGAN) Pandemic brings on surge of visitors - and challenges - to local parks

  11. (CONNECTICUT) Some towns clean up, Farmington shuts down river access point as surge in visitors creates trash problem

  12. (WASHINGTON) Recreation becomes 'wreckreation' as careless outdoor adventures turn destructive, spark wildfires

  13. (IDAHO) 'IT'S GROSS': Trash, human excrement at local recreation areas raising concerns

  14. (ARIZONA) Trash and traffic increase in Oak Creek Canyon, worrying officials and nonprofits

  15. (USA) National Parks are getting trashed during COVID-19, endangering surrounding communities

  16. (MASSACHUSETTS) Cape Cod park officials see uptick in offenses due to coronavirus pandemic

  17. (USA) More graffiti, weeds, and animals: Look at how National Parks sites changed in the pandemic

  18. (NORTH CAROLINA) US Forest Service: Illegal garbage dumping, littering, camping can lead to fines

  19. (USA) Tourists are leaving a mess at National Parks

  20. (USA) From national parks to the deep sea, plastic pollution is showing up wherever scientists look

  21. (USA) 'More masks than jellyfish': Environmental groups worry about coronavirus waste in oceans

  22. (WASHINGTON D.C.) Locals turned to the outdoors in record numbers as the pandemic took away usual haunts

  23. (CALIFORNIA) Face masks and dirty diapers: Trash piles up at California lake shore, photo shows

  24. (NEVADA) Trash problem growing at Lake Mead

  25. (NEW MEXICO) 30,000 visitors leave tons of trash in Lincoln National Forest

  26. (CALIFORNIA) Lake Tahoe tourists who 'aren't showing the same respect' creating prolific trash issues

  27. (VERMONT) A different kind of summer atop High Peaks, where troubling trends persist

  28. (MONTANA) Missoula seeing increase use of trails

  29. (COLORADO) 30 pounds of beer bottles removed from Colorado 14er

  30. (FLORIDA) Volunteers urged to scour the beaches for the 35th International Coastal Clean Up

  31. (USA) Your used mask needs to find its way to the trash can

  32. (NEW JERSEY) Point Pleasant Beach was treated 'like an absolute toilet,' mayor says after thousands gather for pop-up party

  33. (UTAH) Local hikers finding more garbage on trails as people head outdoors to escape cabin fever

  34. (COLORADO) More forest users equal more trash, fires

  35. (NEW MEXICO) Forest service seeing more trash, human waste left on trails

  36. (USA) Trespassing, vandalism about in national parks affected by coronavirus

  37. (ARIZONA) Arizona outdoors full of trash as people spend the pandemic outside

  38. (USA) Illegal parking, public defecation, overflowing trash cans: Crowds cause mess at parks during coronavirus pandemic

  39. (PENNSYLVANIA) COVID-19 blamed for more crowds, trash at Devil's pool in Philadelphia

  40. (INTERNATIONAL) Another side effect of COVID-19: The surge in plastic pollution

  41. (NORTH CAROLINA) National parks getting trashed during COVID closures

  42. (UTAH) Masks, other trash piling up at one of Utah's most popular national parks, park says

This list SHOULD make you angry. This is by no means all the articles about all the various different areas and this problem extends well beyond the United States and across the globe. Improperly discarded trash threatens ecosystems by contaminating water supplies, releasing chemicals into the soil, creates choking hazards for animals and more. Eventually, it makes its way back to us.


RESOURCES FOR HOW TO RECREATE OUTDOORS RESPONSIBLY:

Leave No Trace - Center for outdoor ethics

REI - How to recreate responsibly in the outdoors

National Parks Service - Recreate responsibly

#SCREAMRESPONSIBLY

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