Outreach Update Winter 2020
By Janice Reid
Outreach efforts during the Covid pandemic have been challenging, to say the least. We have had very few outdoor events. One thing is clear, during this time of isolation, the outdoors has become even more important. Visitation to our parks, forests, and wildlands are at an all-time high. The evidence for this increase can found in some trends. Surging sales in kayaks, tents, RV’s, bicycles, and travel books indicate a shifting focus to outdoor recreation. However, those sectors of recreation associated with groups, crowds, and personal interaction are suffering a decline. Guides and gear outfitters, boat tours and service providers, and campground usage experienced lower participation and thus financial gains. During Covid the demand for campgrounds has been higher but the relative closeness of the campsites in some campgrounds, as well as the inability to provide for sanitary conditions in this pandemic, has forced outdoor recreation policymakers and managers to reduce the supply for some of these high demand activities. Campgrounds have reduced capacity which have increased demand of reservable campsites and dispersed camping.
A byproduct of the dispersed camping is the accumulation of waste left behind by individuals less concerned about the others that may come after them. Our society needs to provide easy opportunities for the disposal of trash. Mask use has skyrocketed and the accumulation of the masks in the environment is just starting to be evident. Even those that would pick up after others feel reluctant to pick up and properly dispose of these items for fear of risking exposure. Homeless camps have increased noticeably, and the trash produced by these displaced and dispersed individuals is very evident. We need receptacles and frequent trash collection to avoid having masks with their elastic and other debris from entering our waterways. This investment may seem too expensive, but I would argue that the investment of community members in collecting these items and the environmental cost to fish and wildlife and the unsightliness to tourists would be well worth the monetary cost. Conservation is a social issue and needs to be addressed by our community at large. Through our elected officials, we need solutions to address this issue. Please get involved and make your concerns known.
For several years, Umpqua Watersheds has led multiple river cleanup events. Our quality of life depends on caring and motivated individuals to keep our public places and waterways clear of refuse.
We need to make trash disposal as easy as possible to avoid accumulation and acceptance of its presence, as is the case in some other countries. Please join us on MLK Day next month to help clean up the trash along our waterways. Organized events like this are not the only opportunity. Make a plan, have a bag and “grabbers” available for your walks, and let’s keep the level of trash from getting to unhealthy and unsightly levels. We love out outdoors in the Umpqua Valley; let’s help keep them healthy and beautiful.