I have often wondered why people come to the Alabama swamp to observe nature and then leave their trash behind. Roadsides everywhere are littered with trash of all kinds, mostly stuff people just throw out of their vehicles. You can see it around the various overlooks on the state Wildlife Management areas and on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge as well as along our main roads.
I suspected that with so many folks spending time in the the swamp because of this virus deal, there would be more trash, but no. Why not? I think partly because people coming out to enjoy nature appreciate what they are seeing and want to preserve its beauty.
Another reason for less trash recently may be, with so many folks out and about it's chancy for immature “little boys” to throw their beer cans and other trash out their vehicle windows anywhere they please. I mean, after all, they are just clueless juveniles who are afraid of responsibility. You see their beer cans and 12-pack containers everywhere, but not so much recently because the cowards are afraid someone will see them.
These same little boys also find pleasure, after getting “tanked up,” in tearing up the sides of roads with their trucks, you know, to see who can make the biggest mess on the road edges. They like to “test” the wet spots just off the roads and see how bad they can tear up the overlook areas, too. The state Wildlife Management areas and the Iroquois refuge are the areas where you see this most often. The ruts they cause on the roadsides can be a real hazard to other vehicles and of course make things rougher for the road crews to mow, plus they will have to be patched up.
So what can be done about all of this? Well, recently state Environmental Conservation officers have been pulling extra duty to nab these “children.” This is not an easy task, as these scary cats like to work at night, but at least they are not all are that bright.
Recently conservation officers have nailed a few "kids," in one case two idiots tearing up the side of the road in broad daylight and in front of a Forest Ranger (told you they are not too bright!). The maximum fine for this deal is $350, which is pretty low when you think about it.
There is the cost to taxpayers to have our road crews patch up these messes, which create a hazard for other drivers and could cause an accident while they're being made. Plus, the sight just promotes more of this activity. I don't know what power a judge has, but wouldn't it be nice if part of the punishment was to pay for or actually repair the damage done?
It is quite obvious that these individuals are not mature enough to drive, so maybe suspending their licenses for a while may help them mature.
As for the trash along the roads, why not make the fine for littering ridiculously high, or make the violators clean up trash along a section of roadway? When it comes to beverage containers, isn't a nickel deposit on the bottle or can kind of small? I bet if it were 50 cents per container, not so many would be thrown out vehicle windows.
What can we do as individuals? Well, think twice before throwing something out your vehicle window even if it is just a tissue. Sometimes these acts just become an unconscious habit. Refraining is a courtesy to others; I don't want to look at your candy wrapper or coffee cup while at one of the refuge overlooks or hiking or out photographing. If you see someone throwing garbage along the roads or overlooks, get their license plate number and report them.
Around the Alabama swamp there is a very dedicated forest ranger who is trying to eliminate these problems, especially the road damage being done. John can be contacted at (716) 250-8051.
We have a beautiful area that is teaming with wildlife. Let's not let some irresponsible people take that away from us.
Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at (585) 798-4022 or firstname.lastname@example.org .