Leave No Trace emphasized at state parks during COVID-19
With visitors coming up to Grand County in the time of coronavirus, park rangers are relying on the public more than ever to protect national forests.
The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and the Pawnee National Grassland are a popular stop for visitors and locals alike. Certain services from the US Forest Service, which maintains the land, have been limited due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Not including developed campgrounds, the Arapaho/Roosevelt parks have over 100 recreation sites with restroom facilities, according to Reghan Cloudman, a spokesperson for the US Forest Service. However, many bathroom facilities have been closed due to limited personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
With thousands of visitors in a regular year, vault toilets are pumped on various schedules throughout the summer. The Sulphur Ranger District, which covers over 442,000 acres in Grand County, goes through 80-100 rolls of toilet paper in a normal week, according to Cloudman.
Cloudman said restrooms have begun to open and will continue in a phased approach as equipment is acquired.
“We are following (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines for personal protective equipment and appropriate cleaning supplies,” Cloudman said. “(We) are in the process of securing reliable supply chains and adequate quantities of essential supplies.”
Until that happens, forest visitors may encounter signs like the one on the restroom at the Rainbow Bay Picnic Site, stating that the toilet is closed until a reliable supply of PPE and cleaning supplies is made available.
Other public parks like Rocky Mountain National Park are also having to limit the number of restrooms available across the park to ensure thorough cleaning and safety for park employees. Rocky is asking visitors to wear cloth face coverings while in park restrooms.
For visitors to either park, the public should pitch in by following Leave No Trace guidelines, including when it comes to restroom practices when no facility is available.
If a public restroom is not available and you’ve got to go, here’s what to do:
- Find a spot at least 200 feet from any water source.
- Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and bury human waste.
- Pack out used toilet paper and feminine products. Animals will dig up those products and scatter them around the area.
- Several types of waste-disposal products are on the market that come with enzymes that immediately begin breaking down solid waste.
- A leak-proof portable toilet or other self-contained receptacle is another option.
Most importantly, Leave No Trace is about packing out what you pack in. If you bring it to the park, either put it in a receptacle or hang on to it until you find one, even if you have to wait until you leave the park. That includes everything from toilet paper to orange peels to cigarette butts. Don’t leave it in the park.
Learn more about leave no trace at http://www.colorado.com.
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