Talking Trash: Leave it cleaner than you found it
by: David Coulson 7/25/2011
My column published in Sunday's Coloradoan.
Over the last couple weeks a common thread kept cropping up, “trash” talk. There were several threads started on FishExplorer.com’s forum concerning improper disposal of fishing line and litter left by users of outdoor areas. Each of these threads ranted and raved about the ugliness of the situation and many ugly feelings were expressed toward the offenders. Then, Colorado Division of Wildlife had a press release discussing the ramifications that discarded fishing line can have on wildlife, especially waterfowl. Once an animal gets caught up in fishing line, or other trash for that matter, it is often a death sentence, as few have the ability to free themselves. Then there was the Big Thompson Ponds SWA - Trash Collection Day Saturday July 16th I participated in. Finally, the following Sunday, a comic strip addressed the topic.
The comic strip was “For Better or For Worse.” Liz, the youngest, and her brother Michael were playing in the water at a beach. She cut her foot on a bottle that had been tossed and was broken in the lake. Illustrating that litter is more than unsightly, it is also has the potential to be dangerous. Michael was rather upset and asked a lot of questions as to what were the litterers thinking when they carelessly discarded the bottle. To which his Mom responded. “No Michael. They just don’t think at all.” That rather summed things up for me and drove home the point that we all need to think about the impact our actions can have on others.
Further the comic strip drove home a point on a topic that really needs addressing, but shouldn’t exist. Simply, no one should litter, yet, it continues to be a problem. The summer before my first year of college I worked for the Toiyabe National Forest. Part of my duties was cleaning up campsites, and other public areas of the messes left behind. But my training began even younger as Dad always taught us to leave our camp cleaner than we found it. Add to that my experiences working with custodial crews cleaning up after others, I make sure I never leave an area any worse than I found it. Given how easy it is to be that way, I fail to understand why a litter problem continues to exist but it does.
So I opted to join a group of folks picking up items left by others at the Big Thompson Ponds just south of Loveland, right off the interstate to the west. This cleanup project is just one of many that occur throughout the year. Trout Unlimited Chapters throughout the state organize river cleanups and such events occur at many of our state and local parks and natural areas throughout the state. I encourage you to join in.
My primary reason for helping out is the feeling one gets from doing a bit of good work. This day was no exception, and I thoroughly enjoyed the morning, the company, the chance to make a small difference, the work (easier than I thought it would be), the chance to take a few pictures, the chance to enjoy lots of good food (they had a pot luck afterwards), and I even took the chance to catch a few fish that afternoon, although minnows used as bait are often bigger than most of the fish I landed.
Marty, the event organizer, said, “We left Big Thompson State Wildlife Area a little better than we found it.” I hope that everyone who spends a day enjoying the great outdoors can say the same.
Blog content © David Coulson
takeakidfishing, CO 7/26/2011 2:02:29 AM
Take a trash bag with me everytime I head out.Teach the kids I take fishing to do the same.That's where it starts.Teach the kids the importance of keeping it clean.I take a few kids out fishing.We start by picking up trash we find at our fshing spot and end by picking up trash when we are done.My rule with the kids..You don't pick up trash or keep your area clean you don't fish and sit in the truck until we are done.Never had one kid not pick up trash or keep there garbage tidy.
Mr.B, CO 7/26/2011 3:36:20 AM
Too often we're left to feel responsible for the actions of others around us, when in reality we enable the law breakers. Its OK for me to litter if some chump will pick it up for me, is the thought that must come to the low life that leaves the trash.
Wouldn't it be better to push the authorities to ticket these people, and force them to pick up trash off the roadsides?
Wouldn't it be rewarding to wear a ghillie suit, wait in the bushes with a camera to document the act of littering, the face of the person/people and license plate numbers, in cooperation with the fuzz?
OK, I'm not saying stop the trash pickup parties, or that I don't pick up anything that threatens wildlife, but that you should stop and think of the big picture.
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO 7/26/2011 6:44:28 AM
A valid point the maybe inforcement would help. However, I find that my house stays cleanest when I don't allow myself the privilege of leaving things lay around. I believe that for most we are far less likely to leave a mess when the area is "pristine" to start with. Whereas if it's a mess, what's a little more going to matter. From my view the solution is keep it clean and educate, inforce with law only as a last resort. We depend too much on the "law" to do what we should take on ourselves in my opinion.
Mr.B, CO 7/26/2011 4:49:28 PM
That's true, but you need to think like these sociopaths, the Earth revolves around them, and they like to do bad things. Also, would you keep your house tidy if you had a maid?
I asked a warden if they ever write littering tickets and he said its rare because of the difficulties involved in proof.
I want to get in on one of these clean up's now, the more I think about it.
I've always cleaned Boyd, because of the diversity of wildlife there. Maybe a hidden camera would work there, in the high traffic areas.
One problem is weather or not the littering is intentional or not. Fishing can result in lost line from snags, wind can take it away, stuff like that, but, if you could record someone in the act, like the people who like to break they're bottles where animals and children can get cut, that would be worth it. Or go vigilante and make them pick it up with their mouth.
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