Forest officials remind people to clean up after themselves in national forests | KOB 4

Forest officials remind people to clean up after themselves in national forests

Megan Abundis
Created: May 20, 2020 10:14 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Santa Fe National Forest officials said they have seen more people than normal this time of year, specifically in the Jemez and Pecos area. Forest officials said they contribute that to the governor’s stay-at-home order.

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, officials want to remind people of an already serious problem happening.

“Lots of trash,” said Julie Anne Overton, with Santa Fe National Forests.

Overton said hikers and campers have been leaving behind a big mess in our beautiful state.

In March, national forests officials closed all recreation sites, including bathrooms and trash collection, however that didn’t stop people from still going and not cleaning up after themselves.

Their bad behaviors are now showing up in pictures from rangers who are trying to get the sites ready for use again.

“It breaks our hearts when we see big piles of trash in what you know what should be a beautiful pristine outdoor area,” Overton said.

Many people don’t seem to be following the ‘pack it in, pack it out’ idea.

Eddie Dehart said he frequents the Jemez area.

“A lot of trash, tons of trash,” Dehart said. “People are parking on the side of the road because the campsites are closed, they are going over fences on the private property.”

Dehart said beer cans, food containers, plastic bags, bottles, empty chip bags, even a lonesome pineapple could be found along with bags of trash.

As it turns out, the trash is the least of our problems.

“I don't know how to put this delicately, but we're having human waste issues as well since a lot of the toilet facilities are closed,” Overton said.

She said this is happening in areas where animals, humans and important water sources are found.

“How would you feel if they did that in your backyard?” Dehart asked.

In addition to trash and human biohazards, there is wildfire danger too.

“We found 20 illegal and/or abandoned campfires just on the Jemez district,” Overton said. “So, this is not good. You know, we will have people out patrolling, but you can’t always catch all of these abandoned campfires, and it would be not a good thing if one of those escaped and started a wildfire.”

Stage 2 fire restrictions went into effect Wednesday at 8 a.m. for all national forests.



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