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Local hiker sparks debate after posting photo of unusual trailhead sign: 'Horrible park management'

"Somebody should reconsider that trash can free park."

"Somebody should reconsider that trash can free park."

Photo Credit: iStock

A hiker near Washington, D.C., has posted a picture to Reddit of a local park's baffling decision and the consequences of it.

The image of a sign at a Chesapeake and Ohio Canal trailhead stating that the area is a "Trash Free Park" appears to be a welcome warning, as discarded packaging in a place of environmental importance should be discouraged. 

However, with no trash cans found in the park, visitors have taken to leaving their waste at the foot of the sign.

"Somebody should reconsider that trash can free park."
Photo Credit: Reddit

While the people leaving the rubbish should be condemned first and foremost, the lack of trash cans in the park is pretty much asking for trouble. With no options to discard waste in a tidy manner, the likelihood of visitors throwing items on the ground increases. 

Not only is the trash deposited at the trailhead an eyesore, but with nothing to contain it, it's almost certain to be blown by the wind to far-reaching places, possibly ending up within animal habitats and the canal itself. 

"Somebody should reconsider that trash can free park," one Redditor observed in the r/awfuleverything subreddit. "Lot better to have the trash collected there than spread out all over. I am all too often amazed by those that can't separate wishful thinking from reality. In this case, wishful thinking is there is no trash. Reality we need a trash can." 

According to the National Park Service, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal offers "184.5 miles of adventure," with the area preserved to demonstrate the canal's importance to America's early transportation industry. 

"Today it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural, and recreational treasures," the NPS' website says.

But those natural treasures will be impacted by the decision to avoid the installation of trash cans. The waste from plastic packaging could leach harmful chemicals into the soil, which will impact the growth of native plants and trees. It could also prevent sunlight from reaching greenery, limiting growth.

Meanwhile, the trash could be ingested by animals or break down into microplastics that can enter the bodies of critters through eating or drinking. 

If it enters the water supply, the waste could travel downstream for miles, ending up in animal habitats and potentially suffocating fish — even eventually making it to the ocean and harming marine life

While the desire for a trash-free park is commendable, the policy needs a little more thought and a little more consideration from visitors. 

"Horrible park management," one Redditor said

"You think they'd at least put a trash can right at the trailhead," said another.

Maybe the C&O Canal's managers should look at the approach of a park in Thailand, which posts trash back to those who left it. 

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