Wow- some interesting trash gets left behind in Grand Teton National Park. Did you leave your glasses, or maybe a bag of bait fish, Van Gogh's ear (not sure how that fits into a national park vacation), how about a zen garden?
Wednesday was the annual park-wide cleanup day put on by our Green Team, a group of park, partner, and concession employees dedicated to continually making operations and practices in Grand Teton more environmentally friendly and sustainable. All employees, from the superintendent to folks who pick up trash for their job every day, spend four hours in the morning along park roads picking up trash left behind by those traveling through Grand Teton National Park. Some of our partners and concessionaires also chipped in and helped to clean up the park. As we marched along roadsides, through picnic areas, and in campgrounds we picked up trash ranging from used tissues (gross!), candy wrappers, fruit and their peels, plastic bottles, beer cans, to some pretty unusual items like car parts and the ones I mentioned earlier.
My work group covered a section of the Moose-Wilson road from Sawmill Ponds Overlook to the Death Canyon Trailhead. We were surprised, and quite pleased, to find very little trash along this road corridor. We didn't even fill up one trash bag from this 4-mile section. This is good news, especially since the sensitive riparian habitat along the Moose-Wilson road supports abundant wildlife including beaver, moose, and bear. We did find a plastic zip-lock bag full of about 30 bait fish-for fishing near the Death Canyon Trail Head. Actually, a visitor (thanks Jim!) pointed it out to us as he was getting ready to head off on a hike. Seems like a bear would really enjoy that snack and we certainly don't want that!
At noon everyone gathered for lunch. Items were nominated and voted on for the top three most interesting items found. Some items that are too big or heavy to carry are flagged and picked up later, and items that might be dangerous like needles and drug paraphernalia are picked up and disposed of by the park's law enforcement rangers. This year's top three winners were a zen garden, Van Gogh's ear, and some drug paraphernalia found by one of our law enforcement rangers.
When you are out and about in the park don't forget to properly dispose of your trash in the bear-proof trash cans or recycling bins. Also, remember proper food storage. Bear-proof food storage boxes are located in campgrounds and picnic areas for easy proper food storage. A fed bear is a dead bear and everything smells to a bear (even your water bottle) so lock it up!