It seems some are blaming social media for a sudden increase in trashing of our public lands. Excerpt:
Social media’s ability to attract swarms of visitors to picturesque meadows and alpine lakes has presented a new challenge to keeping natural spaces looking even quasi-pristine.
“I don’t think anybody anticipated social media — a year ago, or five or 10 years ago — to be what it is today,” said Dana Watts, executive director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. “There’s no question it’s having an impact. It is something we’re very much paying attention to.
With more people venturing into the outdoors — many in pursuit of the perfect Instagram snap — Romano can reel off a list of etiquette violations he’s witnessed: Litter, off-leash, free-range dogs, keep-out signs ignored, switchbacks cut, social trails splitting meadows and noise.
“The first time I heard music on speakers in the backcountry, I thought, ‘This can’t possibly be.’ Now it’s very frequent, and people are blasting it,’ ” Romano said.
“I’ve heard people say people who do these things are just ‘hiking their own hike.’ That doesn’t mean you do what you damn well please. Trails are on public property and come with rules and regulations. Roads are public property, too, and we share them with a lot of people. I can’t just drive my own drive. … That mentality astounds me. Trails are being inundated with a lot of new, clueless people right now, and we need a massive public-education campaign.”
Here’s a thought: Post the rules and regulations for the use of these public lands (I am pretty sure this has already been done). When the park rangers and/or Forest Service officers find people violating these rules, 1) arrest them, 2) fine them, 3) implement sentencing that includes making them clean up their damn mess – or, more likely given the time involved, someone else’s mess.
When I was a little tad, the county I grew up in – Allamakee County, Iowa – along with neighboringand Clayton Counties – were home to some amazing county parks. Many of those, like North Bear County Park and Bloody Run County Park, had extensive camping areas along narrow, lightly graveled roads where one could drive back along the creeks for miles, camping along the streamside and in the meadows in some beautiful locations. But this was in the late Sixties and Seventies, before the anti-littering campaigns started having an effect, and I can well remember my parent’s frustration at the number of people who would leave bags of trash and piles of empty beer cans just laying on the ground when they pulled out of their campsites.
The state and county authorities who managed these parks were likewise frustrated. How did they respond? By closing the parks to vehicle traffic. Oh, they were still public parks. There was a parking lot next to the road, and a big solid steel gate over the drive in, so only county officials could enter. Fishermen, hikers and backpackers were free to walk in, but no wheeled vehicles were allowed. That solved the problem, but at the cost of a great deal of access. So that may well be what eventually happens in Washington, where this problem is occurring.
You don’t see this much in Colorado, even in roadside camping areas. You likewise don’t see it much in Wyoming, where Mrs. Animal and I have done a great deal of camping and fishing.
So, what’s different in Washington state? Any thoughts?