2 dozen area parks eliminate trash cans, not trash

A pile of trash bags sits below a sign at Roosevelt Island Park explainimg to visitors that they are responsible for taking their own trash out of the park when they leave. The park is one of 27 national parks in the area that no longer provide trash cans for the public in the D.C. area. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON – Campers and hikers are familiar with the concept of “carry in, carry out” when visiting natural settings.

But the idea of hauling personal trash may take some getting used to however at national parks in the D.C. region typically used for day trips and picnics.

The National Park Service’s Trash Free Park Program has been expanded to include more than two dozen parks along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Those parks no longer have trash cans.

A spot check of some of the locations reveals fast food debris on Dangerfield Island, a tied-off grocery bag at the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, and doggie poop bags piled at the foot of the “Trash Free Parks” information sign on Roosevelt Island.

Some locations where trash cans have been removed now have trash bag dispensing stations. The bags at Dangerfield Island for example have printed messages in both English and Spanish. Among the other information, the bags say “Thank you for taking pride in your park!”

A news release from the park service details how getting rid of “unsightly refuse containers that attract pests” will improve the appearance of parks. And crews typically assigned to trash pickup have more time for other tasks such as trail and grounds maintenance. The program also is intended to promote recycling.

The Trash Free Parks initiative was implemented in this region in April to commemorate Earth Day. Since then, one dog walker at Roosevelt Island tells WTOP that the volume of trash piling up at former trash can locations has improved with time.

The park service intends to expand the Trash Free Parks program through 2015 to include larger area parks including Belle Haven, Collingwood, and Fort Hunt Park, which are popular picnic locations for large groups.

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