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Arkansas Sportsman

Litter trashes beauty of wild places

By Bryan Hendricks

This article was published July 31, 2014 at 3:03 a.m.

People that read this column surely don't litter, but the haints that despoil our public areas really need to clean up their act.

In the words of Mrs. Thrasher, my second-grade teacher at McDermott Elementary in 1971, some of these people act like they ain't got no home training.

We're talking about more than littering. Some of the stuff we've seen this summer is plain nasty.

For example, in early July Miss Laura and our daughter visited four islands at the western end of Lake Ouachita near Big Fir. Many people camp on the islands at Lake Ouachita to get more privacy than the Corps of Engineers' developed campgrounds afford. Some use the islands as hunting camps to get closer to remote areas for hunting deer, bear and turkey. They've trashed these islands.

In addition to large quantities of beer cans, water bottles and other garbage, they have turned the islands into an open sewer. The piles are easy to spot thanks to white Charmin flags. They are so plentiful that it looks like snowball bushes are in bloom.

There is a right way and wrong way to answer nature's more urgent call. That's the wrong way. The right way is to dig a pit and bury it when you're finished. We carry a gardening spade on our backcountry adventures for this purpose. You can also get a folding, military-style shovel at almost any sporting goods store. They are cheap, and they are a signature item that distinguishes the civilized from the feral.

While we're in the scatological realm, we also have a beef with the way people behave at the closed restroom up the hill from the old canoe access at Tyler Bend Recreation Area on the Buffalo River.

The bathroom has been closed for a long time. The National Park Service is imprudent to keep that facility closed because that is where many people exit the river and where their need is likely to be most urgent. Nevertheless, it is closed, but that hasn't stopped some people. They've just done their thing behind and to the sides of the restroom. The smell is atrocious.

We are also seeing these sorts of violations with greater frequency on the Buffalo's gravel bars. Gravel bar campers traditionally abide by an unwritten code that respects and promotes the integrity of the backcountry. These are sacred places, so don't act like heathen.

Last week, Miss Laura and our son Matthew spent three days hiking the Eagle Rock Loop in the Ouachita National Forest. That's smack in the middle of nowhere, so you think it would be pristine. Far from it.

Every flat place beside the trail has a campsite. Those close to roads, especially along the Little Missouri River, are littered with beer cans, plastic bottles and other garbage.

The city of Malvern has done a magnificent job developing the Ouachita River into a popular kayaker's destination with its excellent facilities at Whitewater Park. There is a ramp where paddlers can launch canoes, kayaks and rafts.

There is not a better way to spend a hot summer afternoon than by floating from Remmel Dam to Whitewater Park, or from the park to Grigsby Ford. The giant rock garden at the park is very popular among whitewater kayakers.

Unfortunately, a lot of people with no home training loiter at the park. If Mrs. Thrasher were still with us, she'd line up the whole lot of them and whack their palms with a ruler. There is a really nice pavilion that is often piled high with cans, beer can cartons, bottles, dirty diapers and other things too heinous to mention.

Responsible people often clean up cans and bottles, but most folks don't want to mess with biohazards. There are two Hot Springs County solid waste disposal facilities within 15 minutes of there in two different directions. It's not that much trouble to do the right thing.

We who cherish our time in the woods and waters live by a simple "leave no trace" ethic. We leave it cleaner than we found it, but that shouldn't require extraordinary measures.

Clean up your mess.

CORRECTION

We mistakenly reported Sunday that a sporting clays tournament to benefit the Baptist Health Foundation will be held Friday.

It will actually be a trapshooting event and will be held Aug. 22 at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Shooting Sports Complex in Jacksonville.

More information is available online at baptist-health.com/foundation/events.

Sports on 07/31/2014

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