We, as citizens, have a responsibility for our public lands. If we use these public lands, we must do so wisely.
We hear more and more cases of abuse to our BLM and forest lands. Are stiffer fines the answer? I think a better answer might lie in having those who offend take part in the restoration for the damages they inflicted and also extra work and restoration on areas they haven't affected personally. People who are guilty of off-trail travel could be sentenced to so many hours of service comparable to the extend of their damage.
This type of involvement happened recently when a man who had traveled off trail due in part to mechanical difficulties with his vehicle, joined with a rehabilitation effort voluntarily. He devoted a day to helping repair the damage he had done. I'm sure this was a difficult thing for him to join in with OHV groups who frown on off-trail travel. He may have feared a lynching, but I believe he was well received and the majority of those helping with the restoration didn't know he was also the culprit as they were from out of the area.
But this was a heroic effort on his part I think. The man was well received and his help appreciated. His willingness to put himself in that situation without being court ordered to do so was admirable.
A recent story in the Emery County Progress reported about was called Too Swell to Trash. It dealt with litter on the Swell and an apparent lack of concern by users to keep the Swell clean. Trash is strewn for miles and miles and thrown from vehicle windows. The trash on OHV trails is minimal, showing the users commitment to keep these off road trails clean. If these offenders who throw trash from windows could be found, then get them out there picking up garbage as part of their sentence.
We need to start with our children in keeping this type of trashing from happening to start with. Not throwing things out of vehicle windows is the key.
If you have to get rid of your trash before you go home, then put it in a dumpster somewhere.
I used to be the leader for some cub scouts and one service project we did quite regularly was to pick up garbage along the streets in Huntington. We spent a lot of time trying to improve our community. One thing we talked about a lot as we did this was keeping things clean and not trashing our environment. I would like to think any of these scouts would think twice about throwing anything out a window, knowing first hand the time it takes to do such cleanup work.
I am disturbed most of the time, (and I'm not a clean freak) by the trash left behind after ball games and activities.
My sons used to play football on Saturday mornings at Emery High and after a Friday night Emery game the bleachers and grounds would just be a mess that next morning. I thought this was really bad behavior.
As always we can be part of the problem or part of the solution. When it comes to being better stewards of our public lands and towns where we live we should be better examples to young people and never trash our environment. I hope we're part of the solution.
One other thought, I've discovered that stop signs lead to littering. Recently there has been a barrage of new stop signs in Huntington. One on our corner has brought an increased amount of trash thrown from windows, into my yard, while people slow down, (just barely) at these signs. But, that's another story.