Hiking through the park each day I have forced my eyes to look for the anomalies in the landscape so I can see Nature’s hidden treasures. It has also meant I have seen the destructive side human behavior as well. I started with the picture of the bright red and pink helium balloons because normally we would see them as representing a happy event. They were brought into the park most likely in a car and when the doors were opened some escaped. Getting stuck in Trees and traveling deep in to the forest. When they pop a small creature might try to eat it or get tangled in the string and at the very least the non-degradable waste will be trapped forever in the park.
Vandalism prevails throughout the park as well, even in the more remote areas that require hiking and climbing effort. One of the saddest things I found was a cross carved into a Tree, so fresh it was still bleeding when I noticed it. It hurt twice as I felt the pain of the Tree, a living creature and the shame that someone would do such a thing using a symbol of Christ. I could not help but cry for the my friend who greeted me the first time I climbed up to see the view. My first trip to this location had been on Feb 21st and when I returned in Feb 25th I found the evidence of the assault on the tree. It breaks my heart every time I visit the site to find peace.
I have found tagging on Trees, burnt initials and carving. Gorgeous gray stones that were placed in 1914 covered in mindless graffiti that will likely mean nothing to those who left it in years to come. It troubles me to think this is what others are inspired to do in such a beautiful and peace filled place.
Litter reappears ever day, it does not matter the number of times I myself have picked it up and disposed of it properly. Styrofoam, plastic, cellophane, tin cans, cigarette packs and condoms litter every corner of the park. Somedays the materials are so disgusting you need rubber gloves and a double bag. Many times the litter is out of safe reach and I have to leave it behind.
One problem that is at least in part responsible for the litter is the always full National Park Service secure receptacles. I used to think it was the fault of the NPS for not emptying them often enough. I suspect this is not the case now as I have witnessed local residents driving up and dumping their personal waste in the NPS receptacles. I finally decided to photograph one of the perpetrators in action. Don’t blame the NSP for the garbage receptacles being full, blame guys like this. He dumped two bags and a series of boxes that once contained 24 cans of beer/pop each. He never flinched even when he knew I was taking photos.
Please respect our National Parks they are not garbage dumps, toilets, hookup venues or white boards. Parents in many cases it starts with you. Please teach your children to respect Nature and the beauty it brings to our lives.
Next time you hike in a park, walk on a beach, visit a playground bring gloves and a bag. If we all take the time to remove the litter it will be a gift, a clean Nature space.
Love to You ALL