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Phoenix man using videos to bring awareness to polluted trailheads

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Posted at 2:36 PM, Feb 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 17:21:51-05

PHOENIX — Like many Phoenix residents, Seth Landau loves to hike. But while taking in the beautiful scenery, he says he's noticed a problem lately.

“People are using the hiking trails kind of like a landfill in some cases," Landau said.

He created a video that he posted on his YouTube page, picking up all of the trash he's come across.

"It hurts my heart, it's sad because this is somebody's home," he said.

On an average Saturday morning, the parking lot at Piestewa Peak Trailhead is packed, as hundreds make their way up the mountain.

"This is kind of the Disneyland of Phoenix right now with everything shut down," Landau said.

The pandemic has brought an influx of people to hiking spots just looking for something to do. While many may not see it on the main trails, Landau says the trash is usually right off to the side.

"Once you see it, you cannot unsee it," he said.

In the video he created, Landau picks up fast food wrappers, bottle caps, even clothes, shoes and sunglasses.

When ABC15 asked the city of Phoenix about the problem, Public Information Officer for the Parks and Recreation Department Gregg Bach sent the following statement:

I’m not aware of this being any more of an issue than normal in the city’s preserve land. Park Rangers continually monitor this and will do clean-up activities as needed, as do our Volunteer Park Stewards, who work closely with our ranger staff. If someone has a concern, they should contact our department. provides all the contact information. Also, should someone wish to point out a concern about trails or litter in the Piestewa Peak area, there is a ranger station near the trailhead’s main parking area and adjacent to the large vehicle and pedestrian bridge.

When asked if the city has enough staff to handle the number of visitors, Bach said, "We are staffed to manage the use of our trails."

Landau says he doesn't blame them for the problem.

“To expect the city or the county or the state to pick up after us and to take care of this conservation we should be doing ourselves is unrealistic," he said.

But instead, he says it's on all of us to do something about it.

“Sometimes when you make a movie or creative video and put it right in front of somebody it’s really hard to ignore," he said. "So that’s how my feelings come out through art and hopefully that inspires people to see what I’m seeing and once you see it you can’t unsee it."