APACHE-SITGREAVES NATIONAL FORESTS (3TV/CBS 5) -- Officials with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are asking visitors to clean up after themselves after record visitation to the area has left an appalling amount of trash.
Over the past couple of weeks, campers, hikers and others enjoying recreational sites in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests left behind a ton of trash. They even left some of the port-a-potties overflowing.
In fact, because most of the port-a-potties are supposed to be closed, feces was actually left on the ground.
Forest rangers reported dumpsters being filled to the brim and excess trash bags tossed on the ground. Rangers even said they found syringes strewn about campgrounds.
Rangers posted pictures of the trash on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests' Facebook page. The pictures showed the feces on the ground and overflowing dumpsters.
"The syringes surprised me as well, when our crews were out there cleaning out the port-a-potties and cleaning up the trash outside the dumpster they had to pick up the bags and the needles were actually poking through and falling onto the ground," said Kacy Ellsworth, public affairs officer for Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
Arizona camping lovers said they're upset some people are not following the rules.
"Petty disgusting, and it just really dismays me, people, don't care about the conditions of the campground that we have for everybody," said Patrick Graham.
Graham lives in Anthem and says since social distancing, he loves camping up north in his fifth wheel.
"All it takes is one or two to spoil it for everybody else, and I think it's a selfish attitude, very egocentric," said Graham.
Reducing the number of wildfires frees up fire crews, first responders and other medical resources. It also reduces firefighter exposure to COVID-19.
Robert Olvera said he lives in Mayer and is concerned about people not following the campfire ban in place.
"They ought to go to jail," said Olvera.
"I think we should follow the rules," said Cappi Baumgart, who lives in Gold Canyon part-time. "I think they put a lot of thought into what will make it safe and how we should do that."
Baumgart said the campfire ban has not stopped her family from camping, but they are making sure to follow the rules.
Rangers are urging visitors to leave the forest as it was found. If you pack it in, pack it out. If you have a big bag of trash and you can’t find a dumpster that’s not full to toss it in, throw it in your trunk of your vehicle and look for the next empty dumpster.
If you’re caught illegally dumping or littering, you could be forced to pay $1000 to have it cleaned up.