Each year thousands head to Yosemite National Park to clean up the trash left behind, especially by the many summer visitors who come to enjoy nature each year.
The tradition has been around since at least 18 years ago when rock climbers in Yosemite Valley began the latest large campaign. It's now become a movement.
Scott Gediman, a Yosemite spokesman who participated in the cleanup, said, “It’s a great concept, and we’re absolutely thrilled that other parks and public lands and cities and towns have adopted it.” He said, “It’s really grown into a big, wonderful park program.”
The adoption of a steady volunteer clean-up program is seen as a positive thing by many, but parallel to that are also growing calls to speed up the ban of single-use plastics in parks like Yosemite.
As the Fresno Bee reported, Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, announced a Biden administration order in June to phase out single-use plastics for 480 acres of federal lands by 2023.
Haaland said in a statement, “As the steward of the nation’s public lands, including national parks and national wildlife refuges, and as the agency responsible for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats,” the Interior Department is “uniquely positioned to do better for our Earth,”
But now, calls to speed up that phase-out have grown louder.
A study by researchers at Utah state found that the equivalent of 123 million plastic bottles settles on national parklands and other public lands in the western U.S. alone each year.
And researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey released a report that details how tiny plastic particles were found in water samples taken from Rocky Mountain National Park in areas as high up as 10,300 feet.
“It is raining plastic,” a scientist once said.
Next year, for the 20th anniversary of the Yosemite facelift project, organizers say they want to expand the project to 30 cleanup events across North America, which includes sites in Mexico and Canada.