According to a TIME magazine article published last July, one mounting reason the National Park Service closed a significant percentage of its parks in spring of 2020, coinciding with the onset of mass closures following the onset of COVID-19, was the accumulation of trash and human waste and decimation of plant life off-trail. The author reports the behavior of folks new to hiking forced the decision to close specific parks and sections of trails early. COVID-19 and its after-effects further kept many parks closed for as much as a year.
Littering and graffiti – Shameful
Many of us who enjoy exploring trails and experiencing nature’s beauty firsthand would agree with the author of the TIME article. He was appalled at seeing the graffiti on the rock wall. Two summers ago, my spouse and I took a wilderness rafting trip around Horseshoe Bend in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. During one of our stops, we hiked back to see the Ancestral Puebloans’ (called Anasazi) petroglyphs, some 800 years old. Like all monuments, the petroglyphs were roped-off, as no one was allowed near the wall. Despite that measure, we were disgusted to observe graffiti painted on the petroglyph wall. It was shameful.
Others frowned who witnessed the same
On our return hike back to the boat, I stopped to chat with a park ranger. She stated the park may request restoration and cleanup of the wall, but it all depended upon funding.
For those who hiked up to the petroglyphs, you could only imagine their thought processes as they viewed them. They frowned, and some pointed to the graffiti and shook their heads, dismayed at what they viewed. New people are getting out in the wilderness with little clue on etiquette, simple common-sense habits and negative environmental impact. It appears that littering and graffiti are to be acceptable, just as lack of social etiquette is a foregone conclusion. Thank goodness for volunteers.
Another horrific act of vandalism
In April, a prehistoric petroglyph was defaced in Moab with the words “White Power.” Despite the canyon being popular with off-roaders, mountain bikers and hikers, the area had managed to avoid graffiti until now. The Bureau of Land Management is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information on who committed this terrible act of vandalism.
Littering has far-reaching effects
Littering has a far-reaching impact on our ecosystem. It affects both plant life and animals. And it also affects our enjoyment when we witness a complete lack of respect for nature.