ENVIRONMENT

‘We get a lot of trash’: Litter, graffiti found across Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Aug 16, 2023, 5:53 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2023, 9:53 am

Tibble Fork Reservoir...

Tibble Fork Reservoir can be a serene place for outdoor activities but people who vacation in the area say the area is littered with trash and graffiti. (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

AMERICAN FORK CANYON, Utah — Some Utahns say the amount of litter and graffiti left in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest has become a problem.

The trash has also been spotted around Tibble Fork Reservoir. Visitors there said the amount of trash they see in the area depends on the day.

“Some days, if you come up on a weekend, there’s a lot,” visitor Elaine Corbridge said.

She said since the area’s parking lot and beach were upgraded, it’s attracted bigger crowds.

“It seemed like once it started getting more busy up here, then it just came with more trash,” Corbridge said.

David Whittekiend, forest supervisor for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said this problem is widespread. It’s not limited to Tibble Fork.

“Trash will blow around and it can cause problems for wildlife,” he said. “A lot of people have seen animals that have gotten stuck in plastic pop can holders. It impacts the water and the watershed.”

A sign posted on one restroom at Tibble Fork Reservoir read, “This restroom has been vandalized several times–We are working to get the offensive graphics covered. If this behavior continues at this needed restroom site — it will be permanently closed for public use.”

“That’s our last resort,” Whittekiend said. “That’s the last thing we want for our watersheds. When people have to go to the bathroom, they have to go to the bathroom. We want to manage human waste and we want to manage it in restroom facilities not out on the forest.”

He said they regularly find tagging across the forest on buildings, rocks, and trees.

“People come in and I guess they decide they’re going to tag buildings or paint up whatever it is,” he said. “That costs us a lot of money as well. We do have to get specialized equipment, specialized chemicals to remove graffiti. It takes time and it’s time we could be investing in providing better recreation resources.”

There are no trash cans at Tibble Fork Reservoir. Whittekiend said it’s critical people have a plan for picking up their trash.

“If they pack it in, please pack it out,” he said. “It does cost more money for us to offer up trash services. That far into the forest, it’s difficult to get anybody who’s able to come up and pick it up.”

Corbridge said when people don’t comply with this rule, it’s up to the forest service and volunteers like her to pick up what’s left behind.

“A lot of people think someone else will do it for them,” she said. “We helped on a cleanup up here and we got dozens of bags of trash that we picked up.”

The bad behavior can lead to bad consequences for the environment. Whittekiend said garbage that’s left in bathrooms can get stuck in pumps. Waste left in fire rings can bring animals to campsites.

“If people are caught littering, fines start at $150 and fines for graffiti start at $275, plus the potential for restitution as we clean those areas up,” he said.

“I love this canyon, I come up here a lot, so it’s just kind of annoying to see people not care for it,” Corbridge said.

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‘We get a lot of trash’: Litter, graffiti found across Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest