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Officials frustrated with litter found after assessing pristine tribal wetlands: 'Pack it in, pack it out'

Unfortunately, this litter is not an isolated event.

Unfortunately, this litter is not an isolated event.

Photo Credit: CSKT Natural Resources Department

Littering has once again polluted a crucial ecosystem, as a heap of garbage was found near a wildlife preserve in Montana that serves as a habitat for several important bird species.

Officials from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Natural Resources Department in Montana discovered the trash, which included dozens of beer bottles, by Safe Harbor Marsh on the west shore of Flathead Lake last month. 

According to local Montana outlet Lake County Leader, the marsh is a pristine wetland created by a continental glacier. A factsheet from the Montana Audubon notes that it spans 53 hectares and is home to 130 types of birds, some of which are threatened or unique. 

"They rely on the marsh remaining clean and free of human trash, as well as other invaders like plant and aquatic invasive species," Stephanie Gillin, education program manager for the NRD, said of the local wildlife. "Please be sure to pack trash out with you when recreating on all tribal lands — pack it in; pack it out!"

She also asked visitors to check the area for spilled food or trash and to leave no trace. "Burning trash is never recommended, as it will attract wildlife such as bears to the site," Gillin added

Unfortunately, the littering at Safe Harbor Marsh is not an isolated event, as people continue to satisfy their own desires when traveling in nature without thinking of the potential repercussions. 

Tourists in Yosemite to Yellowstone continue to ignore warnings — ones meant to protect the environment and the individual — by going off-trail, and one man was convicted of two federal misdemeanors after he dug a waterway between Lake Michigan and nearby Platte River for better boat access. 

Leaving as small a footprint as possible when visiting fragile environments protects flora and fauna from human impact while ensuring that future generations can enjoy them.

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