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Published: Sunday, 7/13/2003

Haul it in, haul it out

Let's see. There's the ice for the cooler, the burgers, dogs, and buns, the chips, soda, paper plates, and plastic spoons and forks for the picnic at the park. That's it, right? Well, picnickers at Maumee Bay State Park may soon want to take along a garbage bag for their own trash if a “carry in, carry out” proposal becomes policy. It's a good idea.

Emptying the park's 200 trash cans is labor-intensive work. Since the seasonal work force at Maumee Bay has declined from 70 to 50 workers, employees can concentrate on other chores if there are fewer receptacles to dump.

If the plan is approved by the state, park operators would set six large receptacles for daytime visitors who don't want to take their trash home. The park will keep trash cans by the concession stands and lodge. Overnight visitors already use containers near the campground entrance.

This isn't an idea that will only benefit this one particular state park. Less garbage should mean fewer mosquitoes, flies, and invading raccoons.

The Maumee Bay State Park manager is waiting for a response from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. A department official said the proposal is under “serious consideration.”

It only makes sense to move ahead. The park will look better, and while there will still be litterbugs, the majority of visitors will become better stewards of the environment.

This isn't a new idea. Visitors to Wisconsin parks haul their own trash out, and some other parks around the nation require the same. Michigan is considering a similar statewide policy.

At Swan Creek Metropark this fall, visitors won't find as many trash cans, but they will find several large trash receptacles. The carry-in, carry-out idea is also likely for the park district's Blue Creek Metropark when it opens in Whitehouse in about a year or so.

It's too bad such a policy is even necessary. Park visitors ought to have enough respect for the environment to avoid trash pollution in the first place, but obviously that's a position that is naively optimistic.

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