It’s that time of year when the Tonto National Forest has increased use by hikers, campers and fishermen. This enjoyment of the outdoors on public land is a right and a privilege, which also brings the responsibility of keeping it clean and fire-safe. We can all do our part in a variety of ways.
The Forest Service does not have the manpower necessary to walk the banks of the East Verde River, Tonto, Christopher and Haigler creeks picking up the litter left by many thoughtless recreationists. My recommendation is to always have a daypack with a plastic sack that can be used as a litter bag whenever you take that short trip to one of your favorite fishing holes.
It is always a bit disheartening to be fishing a stretch of water and come upon a beer can submerged or any other litter left by a previous group. I guess it’s that pristine appearance we want to re-create even though it may be a popular spot like the first or second crossing on the East Verde which may have hundreds of visitors on a typical summer weekend.
It’s all about responsibility and as parents and adults we can teach this by example when taking young people to the local waters. How about the next time spending 10 minutes cleaning the shoreline of litter before anyone in your group wets a line? Hey, this is a teaching moment and if the area happens to be Woods Canyon or Willow Springs Lake, others may take notice and actually change their habits of discarding empty bait containers or food wrappers.
The mindset that it’s someone else’s or the government’s job to keep the national forest clean is absurd, but it appears to be prevalent in today’s society. We can make a difference, one piece of litter at a time. Remember, have that empty sack in your daypack on that next fishing trip and make that shoreline a cleaner place for the next angler because you were there.
The effort it takes to bring it home and put it in your garbage can is minimal. If children are with you on that outdoor excursion, hopefully a teaching moment has been created. Everyone needs to do their part for a cleaner and more enjoyable visit to OUR national forests. This spring and summer, “Leave nothing but footprints” when hiking and fishing the national forests. This weekend enjoy God’s creation, the Mogollon Rim Country.