Fishing, hiking and exploring the natural areas around where I live are some of my favorite pass-times. I find endless inspiration for my writing in these places. Moments after snapping the picture below, my best friend and I were treated to the sight of a bald eagle flying overhead, as a blue heron plucked fish from the water a mere 15 feet to the left of us. This is an area called Sandy Slough, and just on the other side of the treeline is Lock and Dam No. 25 on the Mississippi River.
However, what you can’t see is the staggering amount of trash and discarded fishing gear that litters nearly every inch of this amazingly beautiful place. Beer cans, water bottles, empty bait containers and even the leftovers of someone’s Chinese take-out met us at each step. The tiny stretch of rocks you see had to be cleaned of trash before I could snap the shot. We removed two full bags of trash from this site, which didn’t even make a dent in the amount present.
This photo is of a public lake, one of four in the heart of a moderately sized suburban town with a major highway just on the other side of the treeline. Again, before we could cast our first line into the water, the area had to be cleared of refuse just so we had a place to set up, or even stand near the water.
These are incredible places that are maintained and kept as natural as possible for our enjoyment. Please join me in keeping these places clean and free of trash and other debris. It only takes a moment to pick up a few cigarette butts and deposit them into an empty water or soda bottle. Take an extra plastic bag with you, as I do, each time you go to one these locations, and remove any trash you can, even if you didn’t bring it. And for those defiling these places with your discarded waste, laziness and disrespect… stop, or stay away.
Don’t just leave these areas as you found them, leave them better than you found them, by helping to keep them clean and as natural as they can be…
We must respect and protect our natural world, lest we find ourselves without anything natural left in the world…
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