Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Lately the news has been covering the government shutdown and how it has been affecting the National Parks. News stories highlight all of the trash piling up and littering the parks. Well, ConserVANtion decided to do something about it! Our Co-Founder, Jordan McMahon packed up the van, and headed out to Utah.
With the government shutdown, many people are furloughed, meaning no work, no pay. Whereas some folks are still being sent to work, but with no pay. This has resulted in many of our parks that remain open accumulating massive amounts of trash and litter. Jordan, works for the BLM, but because the office was closed, he decided to get out into the field and make a difference!
One would hope that if you're going to a National Park, you are going to appreciate its beauty and recreational opportunities. Thus to keep these places beautiful, we should pick up after ourselves, however it seems that is not always the case. Studies show that if a natural outdoor space has trash littering the area, others are more likely to litter as well; however if those parks are trash-free, visitors are more likely to pick-up after themselves. If you are interested in learning more about how to keep our parks beautiful, check out the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoors Ethic's site. They teach Leave No Trace methods to help minimize your impact in the outdoors, leaving areas beautiful for other visitors and wildlife.
But this sparked an idea in Jordan's mind, why not do something positive about it, and help clean our parks, to prevent further degradation! Jordan drove over 500 miles in our 1983 VW Vanagon to visit Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks, picking up the rapidly-accumulating trash along the way. We hope this can spark a positive movement towards keeping our natural spaces clean.
Have you ever heard of the, "Broken Windows Theory"? The theory originated in 1969 when Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University conducted a study of two vehicles, one with a broken window, and one without. Basically, crime, vandalism, and theft were more likely to occur involving the seemingly abandoned vehicle with the broken window. Much like this study, our seemingly abandoned National Parks are seeing a similar effect. With parks left unmonitored, folks aren't paying their fees, littering, and disrespecting the natural spaces.
Luckily volunteers across America are taking a stand, and helping out our parks. We appreciate our National Park systems and hope that we can keep them clean for others to enjoy and for wildlife to flourish.