This week was indeed eye-opening. Thursday was Earth Day and the TWoods office folks here at Rainier participated in the annual park clean-up. We take on a stretch of road somewhere in the west side of the park (the east side still is closed, snowed in, and being plowed) and pick up trash, break up illegal campsites, and attempt to erase some of the human-caused damage.
Fawn, Emily and I - the education staff - went out with Ranger Ken on Skate Creek Road along the park's southern boundary. For those of you who haven't been here (yet!), Skate Creek is a U.S. Forest Service Road where people can camp legally along the road. There's less traffic, less noise, and less regulation than in the park. But the Forest Service doesn't have enough resources to patrol the area very well, make sure people aren't doing anything illegal or causing damage to the land - much less hurting themselves. Some of the clean-up on areas adjacent to the park fall to park staff and volunteers. Ranger Ken seems to have taken on this area as his pet project, for which I really respect him. And although it was a weekday and we didn't run into any trouble, I was a bit thankful to have a law enforcement ranger with us - complete with all of his gear.
Keep in mind that Skate Creek Road, while technically not on our property, does affect the park, because the Nisqually River, which runs in tandem with the road for many miles, is the boundary of the park. And when people camp along Skate Creek, trash (among other things) ends up all over - and in the river - and thus on our property. Also keep in mind that this river flows down towards the Puget Sound region, and provides drinking water and hydroelectric power for hundreds of thousands of residents of western Washington. The river starts up on Mount Rainier as meltwater draining from the Nisqually Glacier.
The campsites, trash and mess we found was astounding to me. And everything had been shot up. Literally. Glass bottles in shatters. Engine oil plastic bottles shot up and the oil spilled all over the ground. Beer cans and food containers all sporting holes from bullets. Trash everywhere. The best campsite we found had 2 television sets, one microwave, and hundreds of beer bottles - all that were shattered from being shot at. Bullet casings and shotgun shells littered the ground everywhere.
My first thought: Who actually has time for such activities?! These ^&*%#@! rednecks really need a productive hobby.
Sorry for the harshness, but it really made me (us) mad. And with the two vehicles we brought out, we didn't have enough space to haul out all of the crap left behind by the drunken 'fun' had by these folks, whoever they are. It was disgusting and maddening.
And before I go on and on, I'm just going to post a picture. More are on my Facebook Rainier photo album.
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