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Keep it clean

Every day thousands of people descend on the mountains of Utah either by hiking, biking, fishing, snowboarding or any other recreational activity. One of the major issues concerning this is that people leave a mess. We need to protect our pristine landscapes, our water, and our air. The beauty of Utah’s wilderness is unparalleled, from its red rock cliffs and sculpted mesas, to its twisting slick rock canyons carved by wind and water. From its mountains with clear, alpine lakes and forests of Douglas fir and Lodge pole Pine, to its highlands of Pinion and Juniper. These landscapes provide not only important habitats for diverse animal populations, but they also provide an important backdrop for Utah’s outdoor recreation and tourism industries.

The rangers and signs tell us "If you bring it in, bring it out". So why don't people do that? They take the time to pack it all nice and neat in their pack and toss it when the bag, bottle or package is empty. Utah has hundreds of miles of backcountry and trails. Some areas are accessible only to hardy backpackers, while others can be reached via off-highway vehicles or mountain bikes. Litter - and "litter" is too bloodless a word to describe the quantity of human-made objects scattered along miles of mountain trails. It's just not there. It is at lakes, rivers, beaches all over the United States. The understandable knee-jerk reaction to seeing a litter-ruined outdoor setting is to blame the problem on "trashy" people who probably treat their homes and property with the same shameful disregard.

But that's too simplistic, and often wrong. The psychology and pathology behind littering appear more complicated. Not surprising given its social and economic costs, a significant amount of research has focused on littering and insightful theories have emerged. One of the most well-documented is the "litter begets litter and no litter begets no litter" finding. Social psychologists have found people are more prone to litter if they see litter around them. If a place is filthy with litter and shows signs of vandalism, people subconsciously see it as perfectly normal and socially acceptable to engage in both behaviors. Litter-free areas remain litter free. Littered places see more litter. "They figure its somebody else's job to clean up after them."

Although there are people who pick up after others. Often they see it on the side of a trail or beach they are at and they decide to pick it up. So many people and yet very few care about how garbage can kill or stunt plant growth yet the people that do care enough to help do something about it. Then sometime you witness that moment. For on a beautiful morning, while in Corner Canyon, the air being nice and refreshing as I was sitting next to the river. A family consisting of the dad, mom, two brothers and a sister were wading through the river picking up trash. They had a rope tied to them all and they were wearing the funniest looking gear to do it. Though the fact of the matter is they were doing a great thing. That river they were in runs down to the watershed that supplies thousands of local citizens with tap water. The misconception of people is that if it is not seen, then why care? Or the common saying is "I didn't do it, so why do I

have to clean it up."

I think you are starting to get the point, but to make Shure I will tell you again littering in our beautiful mountains is becoming a very bad problem. Out in the hills as some will say, there is and should be only beauty not ugly trash. I mean did you know that many small animals crawl into bottles or jars and get stuck and slowly starve to death? Animals get caught in plastic six pack rings, plastic bags, fishing line and a multitude of throwaways. Birds that are stuck, can’t fly away from danger. Sometimes animals caught in six pack rings are strangled as they grow too big for the opening. Animals get cut, infected and die. Every year, millions of birds, fish and animals die from litter. Littering cost money. You wouldn't know it, but taxes go up in some cases just because of litter control and therefor it is a burden on the working class of America. Who wants to clean up after some jerk that decided just to toss trash on the ground? Those kind of people probably say "well littering creates jobs." No littering is a safety hazard and a breeding ground for fire and disease.

As a tax paying citizen, I am stepping in to pronounce a solution that we all should follow to help combat this disease of filthy, icky, gross left over human trash. We have forest rangers patrolling most national parks. But what about the common trail that many people hike or the hidden lakes and rivers that no ranger ever goes to? Operation litter solution is a branch off of the rangers who are citizens who file to be part of it, that get paid by the city funds to patrol our said trails that are common around the Utah cities. They need to be able to ticket and fine the person or people who are in violation for littering or vandalizing our forest areas around the state of Utah. This will help reduce some of the garbage killing plant and wildlife around the state and to help keep our beautiful mountain areas clean. This will also help reduce the rising taxes that are imposed every year for litter control and it will only cost a fraction of what the cities already receive from the state and federal government for pollution related issues.

So remember, the increased popularity of hiking and backpacking in recent decades has led to some special problems in the backcountry. The volume of litter has increased, some streams and other water sources have become contaminated because of poor sanitation practices, and fragile vegetation has been damaged by careless hikers and other outdoorspeople. It’s obviously vital that we all refrain from actions that could mar the natural world in any way, and prevent any further deterioration from occurring. So while most hikers certainly don’t intentionally throw litter around, some do carelessly leave behind such things as tissues or candy wrappers or cigarette butts. It’s essential while we’re out hiking that we try to be as diligent as possible with regard to every bit of trash. Everything we bring in must be carried out when we leave (with the exception of toilet paper, which is permitted to be buried after use in many but not all parks and natural areas).

This all means to think about your hike before you go, pack what is necessary and include a way to bring out your garbage and leave a less impact on our environment. If you are camping for a few days, keep your campsite clean so as not to attract animals and make sure you put your fire out and fill in the pit. Leave the place the same way you found it or in a better way. There are few people that visit the mountains that don’t love the mountains. Share your experiences with friends, family, colleagues and business partners. Inspire, encourage and act as good role models for others so that they too respect the mountains, so that future generations can play, work, and enjoy being in the mountains

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