Crowds and Trash On Public Lands Amid Pandemic

Jul 30, 2020

Pandemic closures have inspired more people to recreate outdoors this summer, and that’s taking a toll on our public lands. Land managers are seeing more visitors, and more trash.


Jon Erickson said things are not normal this summer. He’s the Recreation Manager of the McKenzie River Ranger District in the Willamette National Forest. He told KLCC he’s seeing more cars parked at day use sites. Developed campgrounds are at capacity and then there are those who camp in undeveloped or dispersed campsites.

“We’re seeing larger groups staying longer on the landscape and when you have those two elements combined we’re seeing more trash being left behind, more human waste, because those dispersed sites don’t have any amenities to help people manage those things,” Erickson said.

To protect worker safety; they’re not cleaning up these sites.

”In a normal year, we would be actively out on the landscape,” Erickson said.  “Checking our dispersed sites, checking on our developed campgrounds, making sure they’re clean to help mitigate those impacts to both the next visitors, wildlife and the landscape.”

Erickson said they plan to do a major cleanup at the end of the season. But he urged the public to be aware of how trash and even human waste can affect water quality, wildlife and other visitors. He advised people to plan ahead for waste disposal—pack it in, pack it out.

The Forest Service is adding dumpsters to some popular areas to encourage members of the public to clean up after themselves.

Copyright 2020 KLCC.