Litter, water, trails: How Ohio parks are managing damage caused by visitors

Ohio

DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — Getting outside has become a favorite for people during the pandemic. They get to stretch their legs, see new things, and they can participate in activities that need social distancing.

One of these Ohio parks has been Alum Creek State Park in Delaware. From hiking to swimming to having a picnic, there are plenty of opportunities for folks to get out and enjoy nature.

“Unfortunately, sometimes that comes with a little bit and other times a whole lot of litter,” said Park Assistant Director Suzie Vance. “It looks great today. There are some days where it does look so great.”

Apparently, when everyone escaped from their homes, they brought with them packed snacks, bottles, and wrappers for their food. The problem, these things were left on the ground and not in the garbage cans.

Litter and the other human elements are not just affecting parks here in Ohio. The Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina issued a two-year camping ban at Max Patch.

“We’ve been working with partners to achieve sustainable recreation at Max Patch because of the impacts due to a significant increase in visitors over the past decade,” said Appalachian District Ranger Jen Barnhart in a news release. “Unfortunately, the level of use is causing a public safety hazard as well as serious damage to wildlife habitat.”

Fortunately, there is no long-term damage to Ohio parks; however, there are immediate solutions everyone can help with. Simply take your trash with you or place your waste in a garbage can.

“Our water is treated, and yes water is water and there’s a finite amount of it and a lot of our park reservoirs are resources for drinking water,” said Vance. “We remind people all the time what happens in the water…” Vance said laughingly to the cliché that finishes “stays in the water.”

When litter is left on the trails, the picnic area and the beach, a storm’s wind blows all of the waste directly into the water. To take this a step further, litter costs money.

“It adds cost to the taxpayer. The more that people litter, the more it costs to maintain a park,” said Vance.

The bottom line, get out and enjoy nature. Jump in the water. Get on the trails, but don’t leave your trash there.

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