With camping and fishing season in full swing and many people enjoying Idaho's outdoors, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages all outdoor enthusiasts to make litter pick-up part of their outdoor routine.
"Not only is it the right thing to do, but it demonstrates respect and commitment to outdoor ethics and conservation," said Joe DuPont, Fish and Game fisheries manager of Lewiston. "Respectful people preserve the places they enjoy, so why not leave it better than you found it?”
Picking up that soda can, cigarette butt, or discarded fishing line left by others will not only help clean up the outdoors, but traditions will be enriched as future generations learn by example to be good stewards of the land. Youth learn very quickly from their parents to either be good caretakers - a positive role model for hunting and fishing, or disrespectful slobs.
While the vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts are good about taking their trash with them, unfortunately it only takes a few leaving their mess to ruin an area for the rest.
Littering is the most common reason why landowners don’t allow access on or through their property.
“Some very popular stretches along the little Salmon River may be closed to access next year because the landowners are just not going to put up with the litter problem anymore,” said DuPont.
That means everyone may pay the price of lost access forever because of the disrespectful actions of a few.
Leaving trash is not unique to fishing and hunting areas, but one that plagues all areas - along roadways, hiking trails, campgrounds, vehicle pullout areas – basically anywhere people go outdoors.
The illegal dumping of trash and vandalism of facilities at Fish and Game’s access sites are also common problems. These areas are maintained for the benefit of recreating public and are paid for with funding from hunters and anglers.
“Repairing and replacing damaged items and disposing of discarded trash is very time consuming and expensive,” said Dennis Hardy, recreation site foreman for Fish and Game in Nampa. “The money could be better spent providing a new boat ramp, an ADA toilet or fishing pier.”
Fish and Game encourages the public to report vandalism they observe or people who litter by calling any local law enforcement agency as soon as possible. Write down a vehicle license plate number, physical description of the violator and their vehicle, and note the location, day and time of the activity.
Keeping the outdoors clean comes down to people showing respect and being responsible.
“I’m always happy when I see folks cleaning up at our access areas and along the roads,” said Hardy. “Their efforts show that people do care.”