Our waterways, state parks and wildlife areas are being destroyed by one of the most destructive animals on Earth: human beings. In evidence of this was an observation made while fishing at Scott State Fishing Lake this last weekend.
I have a favorite spot and when I arrived I found trash strewn all over the area. Styrofoam cups and plates were blown into the lake along with plastic bags. Also a sad note to this was empty plastic covers for two new children's fishing poles. This meant small children were present and learned from the parents that it is OK to do this. Wads of used fishing line were lying on the bank ready for some critter to get entangled. Plastic separating rings for six packs also were lying on the bank. Waterfowl and other animals can become tangled in these, possibly resulting in death.
Growing up my father knew most of the farmers in a three-county area since he worked on their farm machinery. He always had permission from them to fish at any of their farm ponds because they knew he would respect their property. He always took my brother and myself with him and taught us how to respect other people's property. For many years I was allowed into these areas until different people came and started abusing the ponds and the farmers got tired of it. It was simple, their land, our respect. Another place I learned respect for this land was from being in Boy Scouts. On every outing you were told to leave your camping area better than how you found it. This meant going through with trash bags and picking up every little scrap of material that did not belong. This usually only took a few minutes.
I have talked to maintenance personnel at Scott Park and know they are overwhelmed with duties, especially with the economy the way it is. It is our fault, not theirs, that this is happening because they cannot keep up with the tremendous amount of trash and still perform other duties to maintain a lake. We need to help this situation with some easy solutions, but it will take everyone to do this. When going camping overnight or fishing for the day, take along a large trash bag and place your trash in it. If camping overnight, do not leave the bag outside so it can be scattered by raccoons or mice. When you leave, take it with you and either dump it in a Dumpster or take it home and throw it away.
We have to preserve our parks and wildlife areas for the future and it all starts from what we teach our children. Show them the proper way to treat our public places and they, in turn, will show their families. We are under the impression that these areas will be around for generations to come, but the true fact is that they will not be with the accelerated abuse we as humans are putting them through.
STEVEN P. SAUER,