The recent government shutdown is beginning to have a significant impact on the many visitors and the general state of the open spaces in the US National Parks. Now a few weeks in, the lack of staff available to ensure that rules are being respected means that garbage is strewn all over the paths — and you don’t even want to know about the state of the toilets. Yet, as is often the case when faced with such challenges, good-hearted citizens are stepping up and helping out.
Keen hikers Marc and Erica Newland have decided to use their regular trips to the Smoky Mountains as a father-daughter bonding experience while seizing the opportunity to do a bit of litter-picking. As they go from one trail to the next, the duo are bagging up any garbage they come across, while keeping fellow hikers fully apprised of the situation through the Hike the Smokies Facebook page: “We had plenty of work! We headed up the trail and before we knew it, our bags were full,” Newland reported.
After Newland explained the shutdown to his 10-year-old daughter, “She was inspired to help out the best she could,” he explained to CBS News. But she’d also like to go further by challenging other hikers to pick up a bag and fill it with trash while out on the trails. It”s a simple message that reminds us of just how important it is to band together and look after our beloved National Parks.
As the shutdown continues, more stories of hikers caring for the environment are flooding in. Some are donating funds to keep toilets clean, others are reminding us to observe a “leave no trace” policy while we’re out enjoying nature. If you do happen to be on a hiking trip with your own family, be sure to have a trash bag in hand and follow in the steps of the Newlands.
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