The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn record numbers of visitors to our National Forests across the county, highlighting the importance of responsible recreation.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho saw record-breaking visitation this summer – far exceeding expectations. This high level of use has unfortunately led to a significant impact on natural resources and recreational areas from waste that visitors have left behind.

The National Forest Foundation, Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho Conservation League, the Sawtooth Society, and the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association have teamed up to create a volunteer effort to clean up high-use areas across the Forest.

Through a pre-organized sign-up, individuals and small groups are provided kits for a self-guided clean-up effort that is running for three weeks this fall. After just two days of work, volunteers had already cleaned up 27 fire rings, approximately 15 pounds of garbage, and over 18 human waste issues. In one weeks’ time, more than 100 volunteers had signed up to be part of the three-week long effort.

During National Forest Week (July 13-19) on the Lolo National Forest, a group of partners came together to clean up the beloved Blue Mountain trailhead near Missoula, MT. The partnership included Working Dogs for Conservation, the Kettlehouse Brewing Co., Mountain Bike Missoula, Little Dumps, and the U.S. Forest Service along with a host of community volunteers who managed to clean up more than 200 pounds of waste from the trailhead area, most of which was dog poop!

Following the Blue Mountain trailhead clean up, the Kettlehouse Brewing Co. made a donation to the NFF to support well-stocked waste bag stations at the Blue Mountain Trailhead to keep the area beautiful and enjoyable for the community.

These efforts certainly demonstrate the power of partners and volunteers rallying behind our National Forests. But it also highlights the importance that all visitors enjoy our Forests responsibly, taking what does not belong in the Forest with us when we leave.

National Forest Foundation