Teaching By Example Could Help Eliminate Forest Litter


If you are a local trout angler, no doubt you have your favorite angling spots where you can get away for an hour or two in the cool of a summer evening. There is a certain amount of ownership that one takes on after a few trips, even if it is in the Tonto National Forest, when fishermen accept the responsibility of keeping the area clean of litter.

Knowing that these spots are very popular destinations by hundreds of anglers, there is still the surprise of seeing litter and aluminum cans in the stream or along the bank.

What do we do? We pick up the garbage and place it in our daypacks and make it a better place for the next angler! 

A couple of weeks ago the local chapter of Trout Unlimited had a group of volunteers cleaning the banks of the East Verde River above the first crossing on the Houston Mesa Road.

The Forest Service provided the trash bins for the collection process and two of these receptacles were filled to the top. It was pristine for a couple of days because of the tremendous volunteer effort and the Forest Service support, then the weekend came to a close.

Longtime wilderness ranger, Craig Eckstein, was patrolling the area on Sunday late afternoon and you guessed it, observed more litter in and around the campgrounds. Needless to say, it is a bit disheartening, but we can make a difference one piece of litter at a time.

Craig and I discussed the dilemma and came to the conclusion that teaching by example from one generation to the next is paramount in cleaning up our forests. Children learn by example, and if parents in a camping experience leave litter, chances are very high that their youngsters will do the same.

We need to convey to all citizens that the national forests are our national heritage and offer recreational use for everyone. With that ownership comes the responsibility of keeping it clean for the next campers and fishermen.

If you have walked the woods near town or some of the outlying communities, no doubt you have come upon household or construction garbage that has been dumped by lazy sluggards who have no sense of personal responsibility 

The ultimate goal is to change personal habits, when litter is created it should not be left for someone else to clean up. We need to change the thinking that comes with the cliché “It’s not my job, let someone else do it.” The national forests are our recreational areas and it is our responsibility to keep it free of litter. Leave that fishing area a cleaner place because you were there.

Teach, by example, when children accompany you on the next trip to that favorite fishing hole or camping area.

Big game deadline has come and gone 

The big game application deadline has come and gone and I had to have mine hand-delivered! Yes, even though I wrote an article about getting them filled out and sent in on time, longtime friend, Norm Langeliers, dropped mine off at the regional office of the Arizona Game and Fish Department in Flagstaff. Needless to say, I deserved and received some good-natured ribbing from some of my friends who knew of my tardiness.

Thousands of hunters are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the lottery in hopes of obtaining that special tag. You can do something right now in preparation for any of the upcoming hunts that you may draw that will make the outdoor experience more enjoyable.

A walking or exercise program developed in the summer months can pay big dividends in the fall when the hunting seasons begin.

I may sound like a broken record because this is the third article I have written about physical conditioning prior to the hunting seasons. The quality of the hunt can be so much better with a strong pair of legs and improved core strength in the hips and lower back.

With the long daylight hours of summer, there is ample time for that 20- to 30-minute workout at least three times per week. The key is to start gradually with a walking program that should be on flat ground or gentle slopes.

Most neighborhoods in the Payson area are ideal for the beginning walker or if that is not available, the half-mile loop around Green Valley Lake is perfect, plus it offers great scenery.

The key is putting one foot in front of the other over a period of time with increased distances as the goal.

After a couple of weeks of training, the body becomes a bit more conditioned and the workload may seem too easy. Well, that is the time to increase the distance or the pace of the walk which will further condition the body for the rigors of a big-game hunt. There is also the possibility of changing the workout from three to five days per week.

The Arizona terrain of hills and canyons which accompany most hunts should mandate that any pre-conditioning program should include significant inclines which are prevalent in most neighborhoods. If you want a real challenge after a walking program has been well established, give the half-mile airport hill a try.

This kind of simple exercise routine can improve the quality of life for all ages, but it is important to consult a doctor prior to starting if you are in the 50-plus category. A lifestyle of activity can provide benefits that are very far reaching and go beyond the fall hunting season which could include a few pounds being shed.

That simple quote, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” is so true, especially, as one approaches the mid-life years.

This weekend, begin that exercise program and enjoy the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.


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