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Tourism seems to be one of the biggest challenges in National Parks. They can have both positive and negative effects on the landscape and the wilderness. Since tourists mainly come for the scenery and wildlife, there is pressure to conserve the habitats of the animals within the parks. I think some of the major issues dealing with tourism in the parks would have to be litter and waste brought into the national parks by tourists. Though litter has little impact on the ecological health of the environment, it has a negative effect on the environmental aesthetics and ads to a negative visitor experience. In my opinion, every National Park should introduce programs to promote taking the litter and waste out of the park which you brought in.

litter sign

This summer I quickly realized the amount of waste that is left behind in parks (I worked for a community in Northern British Columbia as part of the “parks crew”. Part of the job consisted of picking up the litter along the beaches and inside the parks). The amount of garbage which we would have to truck to the dump on a daily basis was disgusting! Over half of the campers and tourists using the campsite and park facilities would leave their garbage and waist sitting on the lakeside for us to pick-up in the morning.. I could never wrap my head around how someone could think of this being morally alright. A great program which most of the National Parks in the United States have begun to implement is called “Leave No Trace”. This program was implemented  to educate people about how to leave the least amount of impact while enjoying to park. The idea which it promotes is “Pack it in, Pack it out!” It educates how to dispose of waste, create the proper campfire to leave the least impact, and how to plan your visit beforehand. You can learn more about the program at http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/leavenotrace.htm Parks Canada and the National Parks Service have also attached heavy fines for littering within the parks. This can be upwards to $5000 a person!

So, my last words of wisdom.. Think before you litter!

Cheers,
-B

The National Parks Service put out this ten minute video in 2001 about the Leave No Trace program.

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