LEAVE IT…
By Montana Grant

Posted: May 26, 2022

Better Than You Found It!

Humans are easy to track. They seem to always leave a trail of trash, graffiti, waste, gear, more trash, or vandalism. Where humans go so does their impact.

When I was a kid visiting Yellowstone Park, we loved to watch the ranger slide shows at the campgrounds. There messages were educational and always consistent. “Enjoy your trip but only take a picture and leave a footprint!” The other message was “Only You can Prevent Forest Fires!” Smokey and the Park Ranger made me understand how to respect the outdoors that we all loved.

How can people be such lazy slobs? Leaving trash, smoking campfires, graffiti, fish guts in the creeks and ponds, rock cairns in the creeks, rutted and eroded trails, pet and people waste, hacked trees and plants… WE have seen it all. It’s like they think everyone else is responsible but not them. 

Not all campers and outdoor travelers are careless. Most do care and are responsible for their footprints. Yellowstone Park has seen millions of tourists and campers. The roadways, campsites, and special places are over 100 years old and still look nice. This doesn’t happen from careless outdoor slobs and vandals.

When a child can understand the message, surely an adult can understand follow the rules. Anything less is lazy and selfish.

As Boy Scouts, we even sifted through old campfires to remove nails, foil, cans, and bottles. If we could not transport them out, we buried them. If we did not have enough water to put out a fire, we covered them with dirt and rocks.  If we saw trash, we picked it up.

If seeing graffiti, trash, and the abuse that Nature gets becomes frequent and familiar, we have lost. Trash and abuse are not normal. We all must do our part to leave our trails harder to find.

Good campers appreciate our precious open spaces. Big Sky Country is better without trash and evidence of human carelessness. 

Over 80% of our forest fires are caused by human neglect. Surely, we can do better.

Montana Grant