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Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests littered with trash after influx in visitors

Posted at 4:06 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 21:58:42-04

PAYSON, AZ — The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is urging visitors to "pack it in and pack it out" when they explore the area after a surge in campers and hikers have left many areas littered with trash.

The Forest Service published two photos on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, which showed trash and trash bags piled on rocks and strewn across the ground. The agency said it wants to remind people the importance of leaving as little of a footprint as possible in areas where there is wildlife and natural vegetation.

"Trash left behind in the forest is harmful to wildlife, pollutes soils and waterways, and creates an undesirable esthetic," Apache-Sitgreaves said online. "Forest employees and volunteers pick up every scrap of discarded garbage, which is tedious and takes up valuable time that could be spent patrolling the forest, putting out illegal campfires or answering questions from visitors."

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests include many popular areas like the Mogollon Rim, Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake and several other camping and recreation areas.

Leave No Trace has the following 10 ways to lower your impact to camping and forests areas when visiting:

1. Swap a case of plastic water bottles or a plastic jug of
water for a refillable water container and reusable bottle

2. Switch from plastic straws to reusable straws

3. Instead of paper plates and plastic utensils, use a cool
set of camp dishes

4. Ditch plastic tablecloths, paper towels, and paper napkins
for reusable and washable versions

5. Reuse containers for trash bins – Ice bags and snack
containers make great trash cans when emptied

6. Repackage food into reusable containers before you
head out

7. Avoid buying and bringing food with unnecessary

8. Use a smaller trash receptacle – By using a smaller trash
bag, or better yet a reusable Deuter Dirtbag, we can be
more aware of the amount of trash we create

9. Rather than discardable single use propane tanks, use a
larger refillable tank for stove fuel

10. Keep a separate bag for recyclables and pack it out if not
available where camping