As the Grand Canyon State slowly reopens, many people are taking to the outdoors to get their fresh air fix. Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests has seen an influx of visitors the last few weekends; however, that's just one of many issues arising. In the wake of record visitation, forest employees have also seen an increase in the amount of trash left behind at campsites and other areas. 

"The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests have seen a surge in visitors recently, and unfortunately some are leaving behind large amounts of trash at camp sites and elsewhere," wrote the U.S. Forest Service - Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on a Facebook post. 

With over 1,000 miles of trails, this national forest is a popular destination for outdoor recreational activities. 

As public lands remain open for outdoor use, the Forest Service is urging people to "Use Leave No Trace, Pack it in, Pack it out, and Tread Lightly ethics and guidelines to keep the forests and its visitors safe."

On May 4, the Forest Service reported that they've seen "record visitation" over the past weekends and shared photos of overflowing trash bins along with bags of trash and excrement littered within public restrooms. 

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On May 13, they again reported that visitors were leaving large amounts of trash behind in various areas throughout the land. 

They warned that trash left behind "is harmful to wildlife, pollutes soils and waterways, and creates an undesirable esthetic."

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To fully enjoy the outdoor areas, they shared some tips on how to create less trash while enjoying the forest.

The "10 Ways to Create Less Trash at Camp" include:

  • bring reusable bottles instead of plastic
  • reusable straws over plastic 
  • opt for camp dishes instead of paper plates/utensils
  • opt for reuseable/washable table cloths
  • reuse empty containers as trash bins
  • repackage food 
  • avoid bringing items with unnecessary packaging 
  • use a smaller trash bin 
  • use large, refillable propane tanks
  • pack out recyclables that you packed in

Volunteers and forest employees pick up every piece of trash left behind and urge visitors to leave no trace and pack in what you pack out. 

"The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests belong to all of us, and we all have a responsibility to be good stewards of the land."

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.