We've all been there - we are out enjoying a local park or wilderness trail when we come across someone else's trash. It could have been left a day or a decade ago; either way, it will stay there until someone picks it up.
The Shelton View Forest Stewardship Association has been hosting volunteer work parties in the Forest since 2016. We have logged thousands of hours of trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, tree planting, and trash removal. Most of the garbage volunteers have removed from Shelton View Forest over the years is what you could call "legacy trash," things that were dumped illegally 10, 20, even 50 years ago.
We have uncovered half-buried Pepsi bottles, degraded plastic bags, and rusty metal from bed springs and bikes. Some of the more unique finds include toys, a cassette tape of The Who, and a hair curler with a root growing through it.
And who could forget the old cars; there are three that sit on the far northwest edge of the Department of Natural Resources property.
We can only speculate as to how these rusty relics got there. The one pictured above is estimated to be a 1957 Ford. It was likely driven in from a nearby development when the alder trees surrounding it were young. While the cars have somewhat blended into their forest environment over time, it just goes to show that what we discard never truly goes away.
Even your apple cores and orange rinds - while they will eventually biodegrade and return to the earth, that doesn't mean others want to see your food waste laying around the Forest. Just think: if everyone left the remnants from their snacks behind, our parks and trails would look very different.
So, how can we be better prepared to leave our natural spaces in as good condition as we found them, if not better?
Here are a few tips:
- Bring a plastic bag or other container with you on your visits to the Forest to carry out your own trash as well as any litter you might find. Pack a pair of work gloves with you for picking up buried garbage or glass shards. Safety first!
- If you stop for a snack, check the area around you before you move on in case you accidentally dropped something. Littering, even unintentionally, is still littering.
- Do not smoke in the Forest. Not only it is a fire danger, but cigarette filters are made out of plastic fibers that will not biodegrade. Please be courteous to other Forest users and smoke at home.
- Exploring with your canine companion? Make sure to pick up after them and TAKE THE USED BAG WITH YOU! It may be tempting to leave the bag at the side of the trail and pick it up on your way back, but to other forest users, it just looks like trash. If you want to be hands free, there are convenient options like this for carrying your dog waste. If you forgot a doggy bag, there are bag collection stations at the east and south trailheads of the Forest.
Thank you for helping us keep the Forest clean and healthy for all!