Litter Problem Burgeoning At Utah's National Parks

Jul 17, 2019

Utah’s national parks are having more visitors, but unfortunately, they are leaving more trash. 

“Zion National Park has seen a big increase in visitation over the past couple of years, and with that increase has come issues with social trails and graffiti and especially litter,"  said Eleanor Siebers, volunteer program manager at Zion National Park. "Things like tissue paper, toilet paper, corners of granola bars, water bottles. Litter, especially of the food variety, is not good for park wildlife. Lots of people are throwing apple cores and orange peels and nut shells like pistachios and sunflower seeds on the grounds, thinking that it’ll decompose. Things decompose really slowly in the desert. We consider that trash - it needs to be taken out of the park.”

Siebers described how drastic the increase has been, especially along one of Zion’s quietest trails.

“Our wilderness staff has been out on the East Mesa Trail," she said. "They do these patrols a couple times a year, and in early August 2017, they only found about four pieces of toilet paper and less than 15 pieces of trash. They did that same patrol last year and they came across 165 pieces of toilet paper and human waste that hadn’t been properly buried, and over five pounds of trash - that’s the sort of thing Zion’s been seeing as our visitation has increased.”

Siebers asked visitors to speak up if they see something happening, but do so non-confrontationally.