By: 
Monika Rued
 Updated: 
Lake Catherine State Park
Lake Catherine State Park

Lake Catherine State Park Superintendent Cheryl Vincent goes over Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Thank you in advance for helping us protect your Arkansas State Parks. 

Transcript: 

Hi, my name is Cheryl Vincent. I'm park superintendent here at Lake Catherine State Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Today, I'm going to take some time to educate you on leave no trace principles during this health emergency of COVID-19. Everybody wants to get outside, and we want to encourage you to get outside, and get out into our state parks and our public lands. But we have to do our part, as well as you guys doing your part, to keep these public lands clean of litter and taking care of the resources out here so that they can be available for years and years to come.

Ok. So one of the ways that you can help us protect the resources is by staying on the trail, the actual trail path. What we're having going on in our parks, especially when they're overcrowded and people trying to social distance, they're creating their own trails, as you can see here. They're cutting through areas of the park that are protected. Maybe there is a special wildflower that's in that area that we're trying to protect. So what we need you to do is we need you to stay on the designated trails and not try to take a shortcut and cut through these restoration areas. As you can see, the sign plainly says keep out forest restoration. But now, we have people who have cut through here in several different ways, and have created their own pass through an area that's not a designated trail.

So, let's talk leave no trace principle about litter. If you pack it in, you pack it out. Anything that you bring out here on the trail needs to come out with you. Litter, clothes. Anything that goes out there needs to come out.

Seeing everything from diapers, to cigarette butts, to socks, to all kinds of gear being left behind.

So let's do your part and whatever you pack into trail, you pack back out.

Hi, I'm Genevieve. And these are my boys, Leland and Logan. And we just got done hiking the trail here at Lake Catherine and we bring doggie bags with us everywhere we go, even though we don't own dogs. And, we just picked up some of the trash we found. Water bottles, monster drinks, saw a lot of orange peels which are not technically leave a trace, but they take a long time to decompose. And also socks, lots of socks where people left, took their socks off to go by the waterfall and must have forgotten that they still had socks.

Yeah. I don't know how you forget your socks, but they are littered from here to the waterfall. I must have counted at least 10 pair of socks. Right. So, pick up your trash.

Most of our state parks trailheads, you'll see these pet waste stations that have bags in there, and there for you. If you didn't bring your own bag. We have one for you. So the key to this is when your dog does their business, you make sure you pick it up. But when you pick it up, you take that out of the trail with you and dispose of it properly. In one of the trash cans provided at the trailhead as well. Another issue that we're having with overcrowding and lots of people out here in a limited access to restrooms is we're having an issue with human waste. People choosing to use the bathroom out here on the trails behind buildings, off of piers. That sort of thing. Besides it being a sanitary sanitation issue, it's also an environmental issue. Human waste takes up to a year to biodegrade out here. So just because you think it's safe out in the woods, it's it's not. So please use the restrooms provided while you're out here in the park.

So when you come out here and you see the trailhead is extremely busy, that's when you need to rethink. Is this going to be safe for me and my family? The social distance out here, if they're parking off the roads, and wherever they can, then that's not going to be safe for you. So what we're going to do in Arkansas state parks is that we're only allowing parking in our designated parking areas. So if you are parking off the road, in the grass, in the gravel, that is not a designated parking area. Just know that you will be asked to move or be cited if you don't move. And we're trying to keep everybody safe and try to prevent overcrowding. So please use the designated parking area.

Arkansas State Parks
Digital Discovery