Idaho Public Parks Deal with Campground Litter
Click here to watch a video, courtesy of KPVI-TV, Pocatello, Idaho, about the following story.
It's the peak of summer and many consider this as the perfect time to go camping with family and friends.
In Heise, Idaho, however, the aftermath of campsites are starting to alarm the Idaho Bureau of Land Management, especially after major holidays like the Fourth of July.
"Me and my family use to come up here a lot when I was a child," says Travis Waters. "People come up here and leave garbage behind. There's a fire pit or you can throw it in the garbage. We've been here like two or three times now."
Avid camper Travis Waters and his family say the garbage is a frequent problem.
"If you get down by the river, there is a lot of garbage, everybody just throws their garbage wherever. They are done drinking a beer or food and throw the wrappers around," he says.
Bureau of Land Management Sarah Wheeler says now is when the trash levels are at its highest.
"During the summer when people start camping a bit more, we see an increase in garbage and trash and litter and refuge all around the area. As the summer progresses we are having a difficult time cleaning up and keeping up the pace of cleaning up all the campsites when people are dumping their trash."
Wheeler says one of the most common problems is when campers attempt to burn garbage that doesn't burn.
"There's a lot of things that you shouldn't burn in a camp fire," says Wheeler. "Aluminum cans do not burn, glass bottles do not burn, construction materials such as palettes they obviously burn, but leaves behind nails which can be extremely hazardous to those coming in after. Diapers don't burn well nor do plastics. So you are not going to want to put anything that's nonflammable."
But what's most avoidable problem?
"We see a huge problem with toilet paper. People go off to use the bathroom and we don't have a site big enough to accommodate that. So they are leaving behind their toilet paper and other items behind when just down a road we have outhouses for them to use. We want you guys to utilize the public lands. We want you to go out with your families and experience the wilderness. With those ideas in mind, use the leave no trace principles. Just make sure whatever you are taking in that you're packing our with you," says Wheeler.
And for families like the Waters, they say they'll be cleaning up after themselves because they hope to come back for more outings.
"I was born and raised here and this is great," says Waters. "I'm up here for two or three weeks having a good time with my family and we enjoy it. I hope it is here for the rest of our lives."
Bureau of Land Management representatives say they spend thousands of dollars to clean up campgrounds.
Another common problem they run into is with people dumping couches and appliances at these sites.
Campers are encouraged to contact a local landfill for those items.