Nice weather brings campers, hikers -- and garbage

More 'leave no trace' education underway

Leave no trace education

BEND, Ore. - Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes the hikers, bikers, campers, fishers, outdoor enthusiasts -- and lots of garbage.

Last summer, the Deschutes National Forest spent more than 5,000 hours cleaning up trash and human waste left behind by people using the public land.

According to forest Wilderness Specialist Jason Fisher, 159 pounds of trash were removed.

"A lot of plastics actually, a lot of plastic water bottles, a lot of baling twine, parachute cords, things like that. Old tents that people destroy and then leave there," Fisher said Monday.

Now, with warmer weather quickly approaching, officials are really hoping to get the word out about the notion of "leave no trace."

That goes for human waste as well. In 2016, 401 incidents of human waste were buried by the Forest Service.

"For human waste that's not buried, if you come into a campsite, it's obviously a health hazard to begin with," Fisher said. "And then, if it rains, snowfall, it's going to wash all that into the riparian zones, into the creeks, streams. As Central Oregonians, we pride ourselves on our clean water, so it's not helping anything."

According to the Forest Service, human waste needs to be buried at least 6 to 8 inches deep, and used toilet paper should be packed out.

The Forest Service said as Central Oregon grows, the amount of trash and waste grows with it, and education is important in keeping the land clean.

"It's definitely frustrating, because some of our rangers hit burnout come August, when they've packed out so much trash all year and they continue to see it," Fisher said. "But I think we just try to get the "leave no trace" education out there and hope people do better in the future."

Officials said the amount of trash removed last summer actually was lower than previous summers, but only because of the wildfires that closed wilderness areas for several weeks.

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