Who Will Pick Up The Trash?

Who Will Pick Up The Trash?

Trash at Devil’s Lake State Park can be a real problem. Even if only a small percentage of the park’s 3 million + visitors leave litter around, that’s a lot of trash! When this photo was posted on the Fans of Devil’s Lake State Park Facebook page over the weekend it started quite a discussion! Too bad it’s not a “one off”….

Ultimate responsibility goes to the folks who don’t clean up after themselves and certainly they deserved the “trashing” they’re taking online for not disposing of their garbage properly. On the other hand, saying, “They should learn some manners”, shaming tourists that we depend on or other knee-jerk commentaries won’t solve the problem either. There will always be people who simply don’t care.

So, while we all agree that it’s the people who leave their trash’s fault, we also have to admit that an overwhelmed maintenance staff & lack of trash receptacles in favor of carry in/carry out policies also contribute to the problem. You simply can’t expect volunteers to make up the slack either. We’re doing a lot already!  There’s not enough people with enough free time to make up for staff deficiencies.

It also may be too much to expect “Carry In/Carry Out” policies alone to work in the busiest areas of the busiest park. Can you imagine “Carry In/Carry Out” working in a sports stadium? Probably not. It’s simply all about numbers. Even if a very small number of the parks multi-million visitors leave their trash on the ground or by the grills it will add up.

Maybe it’s time to re-think how we deal with garbage at Devil’s Lake State Park. Summer’s coming! What do you think would solve the problem?

** Thanks Farrah Lynn for calling attention to the issue and giving permission for the use of the photo.

***Obligatory Disclaimer:  This website is NOT associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not represent the views of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Which is sometimes too bad if you ask me!).

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  1. Dave Capista

    It is painful to remind everyone that the 3 Little Devils dive shop used to hold an annual Trash and Treasure dive where about 700 divers would show up to help clean up both the park and the bottom of the lake. I was told by the 3 Little Devils dive shop that the park told the dive shop to discontinue the event. Why I do not know. This probably contributed to the dive shop closing as about half the dive shops annual revenue came from this event. Perhaps the park administrators need to rethink their policies as this trash problem will not go away without additional funding or the solicitation of help from both local businesses and volunteers .

    1. Author

      Interesting Story Dave. Just a few weeks ago a climbing group organized nearly 200 volunteers for a park clean up. They got a lot done. Your point is a good one, the park certainly has to communicate and interact with the community, fans of the park, etc.. more openly and work with them as much as possible. IMO…

  2. Gregory W Sacra

    Years ago there was a bin at the Tumble Rock trailhead on the North Shore. Now the bins are generally less accessible. This invites laziness and litter. One approach would be to post a nicely worded reminder not to litter.

  3. Mary

    That is a conundrum. My first thought is more receptacles but I have no concept of the logistics and expense of trash removal from parks or if it would even help the problem. I’ve often thought I could carry a bag and pick up trash on some of my less strenuous hikes, but I have never actually done it.

  4. Joan

    I do carry a garbage bag with me when I hike. It does seem the garbage receptacles are overflowing at times and the recycle ones are too similar to the trash ones or people are too lazy to separate their trash.

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