I’m certain you may have seen some of the headlines. Amid the government shutdown, our National Parks are suffering greatly. I’ve been receiving numerous emails from the various national park projects/public land blogs that I follow, and it is heartbreaking. I understand that people are visiting National Parks throughout America based on trips that they have planned, sometimes years in advance. When I went around to visit the National Parks with my friend Laura for Spring Break in March of 2017, we were dealing with a very small window in which we could have made the trip. I was in Grad school at the time, and she was working as a Military Nurse in San Diego. Both of us being military, meant we were on very strict timelines. There is no saying “ohhh damn, the parks are closed, guess we’ll wait 4 weeks and then do this thing again.”

Understanding that these trips are strictly planned out, and knowing the way in which we planned out trip to over 14 National Park sites, it would have been difficult for someone to tell us not to go visit the parks during our 2.5 week vacation. We had literally planned our entire vacation around visiting the National Parks so what else would there have been to do? So, if amid the government shutdown, we are unable to keep people from visiting National Parks, WHAT CAN WE DO?

We have to be creative. According to the Parks Project email I received yesterday, they have a few ideas to include: Contacting your senator, Not visiting the Parks Period, Pack out all waste including bodily fluids, report illegal activities to law enforcement, volunteer after the fact to help clean up, Consider donating to a National Park NGO.

I agree with all of these things, and if you need some links to help you out, head straight to their page^, but I also think at the most basic level, the level where people will continue to still go to the National Parks, regardless of the state of the government, I want to add some perspective to further encourage you to do your part.

LEAVE NO TRACE. First of all, can we look to our neighbors the Japanese? I lived in Japan for 2 years and saw some pretty ingenious stuff around the rural areas if Sasebo, Japan. At the Saga International Balloon festival in Saga Japan, I witnessed over 5,000 people stand in a line at the end of the night to wait patiently for the one train at the station that was only coming about every 15-20 minutes. I was floored that when I looked around there was little to no litter strewn about because everyone had done their part to keep things clean. As a collective this is very possible. It is the basic fundamentals of human life, if you bring shit into a place, you should take all that shit out… literally. LEAVE NO TRACE. If everyone who entered National Parks lands followed this principle then we wouldn’t have to deal with all of this excess trash.

YOUR BACKPACK SHOULD HAVE SOME SORT OF TRASH BAG. If you are visiting national Parks right now, you should pack a bag specifically designed for you to carry out your trash. Maybe you can even fit a few spare pieces of trash from other hooligans in your bag. You can easily bring a carabineer and clip it to the outside of your bag so that way you can fit more trash and it does not mix with your things and you can also carry it out of the park to an approved receptacle hand free. Yes there is a weird weight imbalance when you clip a swinging bag to the outside of your pack, but I’m sure you can figure out how to distribute the weight and stop the swinging.

BRING A SHOVEL. If you have been out around nature long enough, then you probably have had to go to the bathroom at some point without an approved bathroom available. This is inevitable. If done correctly, it is also not harmful to the environment. So at our most basic level, a true mountaineer knows that shit must be buried or you’ve got to take it with you.  So pack a shovel and some plastic zip log bags in case this is the case. You also need biodegradable toilet paper because even leaving toilet paper can be harmful. DO IT.

As a sea story to accompany this, I was an engineer on my second ship and everyone knows how precarious the CHT (Shit) system on a warship is. If you flush anything down those toilets that is not human waste with the approved toilet paper, it will inevitably become clogged and when it gets really bad, and the system no longer works, people onboard the ship (repair division) has to go in there with oxygen tanks and fish through the shit to retrieve the items clogging the system. YES. They have to fish through people’s shit because of other people’s negligence.

At one point, it became clear that the system was becoming clogged from the female officer head(bathroom), (this is the thing about warships, most things can be isolated to a couple pipes) because some of the females refused to not flush tampons down the toilet. Needless to say, I WAS ENRAGED. So I sent out an email to all the female officers and told them if I caught somebody doing that, there would be hell to pay. Not only that, I made them feel extra fucking bad to know that their negligence meant that eventually, other humans would have to go in and sort through people’s shit to fix the problem. After that, wouldn’t you know, no more problems with CHT from the female officer head. My point is, CLEAN THE FOREST. DO THE RIGHT THING. BURY YOUR SHIT OR PUT IT IN A BAG AND CARRY IT OUT. If humans on warships have to be over waste deep in shit on oxygen tanks to fix problems that arise, you can certainly deal with your SHIT. DO IT.

ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES. Seriously, nobody has time for that shit. If you are participating in hunting, vandalism, or any other activities that are harmful to the environment and the well being of future generations visiting these sacred places across our country then FUCK YOU. Who are you? Don’t be a complete piece of shit. This is not about one person, running free on public park lands even though they have been told not to, this is about the people that have passed the road closed signs and are not leaving things in place, but vandalizing the parks, for what purpose? STOP. GO HOME.

VOLUNTEER. Even with all these pleas to do the right thing, there are some real awful humans on this planet. So that inevitably means that we must all join together with park rangers and park workers alike, once the government is reopened and clean up the messes that other people have made. I would gladly give my time to this endeavor because of the wildlife, because of nature and the balance of our ecosystem, and because of future generations. We must always think about our children’s children, and allowing them to witness this beauty the same we have.

I felt very strongly that I must say my peace because it is very important this amount of time in which the government was shut down does not lead to years and years to right the ecosystem again. I mean look at all of these pictures. Leave these places the way you found them and do your part. If you can’t do that then see your way to your house and never leave it again. **shakes head in utter disgust.** Mutters, “Twat Humans.”

“WE LOVE THE PARKS, and we want to see them the way they were the last time we visited!!”

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