“First and foremost it’s very ugly and very disgusting,” said Boise National Forest spokesman David Olson. “Secondly, there are sanitation issues.”
Olson told Boise Weekly that main trouble spots include what are called "dispersed camping areas" wjocj differ from traditional campgrounds because they don't receive regular maintenance from park staff. Instead, it’s the responsibility of campers and hikers to clean up their own mess. But by leaving trash scattered across the forest and failing to properly dispose of human waste, snowmelt and rainwater can pick up contaminants, carrying the contamination into rivers and even drinking water.
In particular, BNF officials say a sharp increase in trash has been spotted in the Lowman Ranger District along Highway 21 and in the Deadwood Reservoir area.
“In the past it was okay to bury your trash, or to go find a big tree to deal with your human waste disposal," said Olson. "But with increased usage it was very clear that this practice could not continue."
BNF officials say fifteen camping areas along Rock Creek near the town of Hansen have already been closed due to pollution and overuse.
“It’s really a problem that’s very solvable. It’s solvable because it just takes a camper a few extra minutes and a little bit of preparation to leave the camp clean as they depart," said Olson. "So, when that user leaves the site, it’s at a point where the next person would not know that there have been people there before.”
Forest service officials remind Idaho campers and hikers include packing out toilet paper and toiletries, carrying extra trash bags or even bringing a personal port-a-potties. More tips and guidelines can be found by clicking here.
Officials in the Boise National Forest have issued a call for public help, stating that trash and human waste inside some of Idaho's most pristine wilderness has mounted to a dramatic and unacceptable level.