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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 5 - 11, 2002


National forest lands deluged with trash

Major increase in garbage 
collected this spring

Express Staff Writer

Public lands in the Wood River Valley are being trashed. Each spring, and this year in particular, U.S. Forest Service personnel are finding loads and loads of garbage.

"We have noticed a major increase this spring in the amount of trash dumped on national forest lands," Ketchum Ranger District Recreation Manager David Gordon said. "An abandoned trailer was found out Warm Springs. A stripped and abandoned vehicle was found in Deer Creek."

He didnít stop there.

"In late April, Forest Service employees cleaned up a campsite left last fall out in Hyndman Creek. They found a car seat, a tent in the stream and enough other garbage to fill up a three quarter ton pickup.

"Three pickup loads of brush cut from someoneís yard were left in the middle of Boundary Campground. Yard cuttings were found dumped in many other locations."

"A large bag of trash was collected at Penny Lake Picnic Area. Countless bags of trash were collected from district roads."

In addition to the larger, more noticeable items, the "usual fare" has been found this spring, too.

That includes toilet paper, human waste, used condoms, beer cans, broken bottles, food scraps, and discharged shotgun shells and rifle bullets.

The amount of trash left behind on the Ketchum District has deterred seasonal rangers from staying for more than a season, Gordon said.

"We can never get the same person to return for a second year because they become so disillusioned by what is left behind by the public," Gordon said.

The district estimates it spends more than $15,000 a year to pick up litter and deliberately dumped trash at recreation sites.

"We can expect a certain level of trash and litter to be left by careless forest users. However, this is really getting out of hand," he said. "We can certainly put that $15,000 a year to much better use. Besides that, no one wants to come here and find these great areas littered with trash."

The Forest Service is appealing to forest visitors to dispose of trash in receptacles. In undeveloped forest areas where trash disposal is not provided, visitors are asked to take trash home.

Gordon added that the Forest Service appreciates the vast majority of people who respect their national forests and take care of the land.

"Fortunately, it is only a small number of people who are leaving their trash on the national forests. However, we are noticing a marked increase in this type of activity, and we need to nip it in the bud before it gets any worse."

Forest Service personnel asked that people who discover litter bugs in action to jot down a description of the guilty partyís vehicle and a license plate number. The information should be reported immediately.

The penalty for littering on federal lands is a fine of up to $5,000 and six months in jail, or both.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.