Sledders leave messes behind in northern Arizona forests

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By Brad Denny By Brad Denny
By Brad Denny By Brad Denny

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- People who go to northern Arizona forests to find snow for sledding take memories home with them but some leave their trash behind, including plastic sleds and toboggans that crack and break.

That leaves messes for the Forest Service to clean up after most winter weekends, the Arizona Daily Sun reported on Saturday.

The Flagstaff Ranger District has been dealing with the issue for years, said its recreation planner, Patrick McGervey.

"Every time we have a decent snowstorm or decent winter we're doing a lot of cleanup afterwards," he said.

McGervey said workers typically find hundreds of broken sleds, and crews fill the beds of pickup trucks with trash.

McGervey said workers find trash from people having roadside picnics, soiled diapers and towels used to clean feet. Much of the debris is found on the floor of forests along U.S. 180 and Interstate 17.

The Forest Service gets help one day a week from Coconino County jail inmates. The extra hands means collection on those days can bulge to as much as 20 cubic yards, McGervey said.

Flagstaff resident Sarah Foster was appalled by the litter when she and a friend went snowshoeing on Hart Prairie Road. They collected empty coffee cups, paper towels and at least 10 broken plastic sleds.

"It's frustrating there's no respect for the beauty they're seeing and the town they're coming to visit," Foster said.

McGervey acknowledged that are a few convenient places to dispose of trash on national forest land.

The Forest Service had tried putting large trash containers near some popular areas but the containers were quickly filled with illegally dumped household and construction waste.