WRC preps litter awareness campaign

RALEIGH — Enforcement officers with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will be conducting a litter awareness campaign at several Piedmont public access areas May 15-16, passing along a “pack it in, pack it out” message to visitors, as well as issuing citations for littering violations.

Littering, a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum fine of $250 plus court costs, poses a problem at public boating access areas, fishing areas and game lands across the state. Most of these areas are not staffed and provide unrestricted access 24 hours a day, seven days a week — factors that make it easy for people to leave trash without being caught and difficult for enforcement officers to catch offenders.

Submitted photo Perdue associates cleaned up more than 1,200 pounds of garbage last month during Project Clean Stream. Efforts like this are needed in part because many people fail to follow the "Leave No Trace" ethical guidelines of enjoying outdoor recreation.

Submitted photo
Perdue associates cleaned up more than 1,200 pounds of garbage last month during Project Clean Stream. Efforts like this are needed in part because many people fail to follow the “Leave No Trace” ethical guidelines of enjoying outdoor recreation.

“Patrolling these areas and catching litterbugs are difficult to do given that we have to catch them in the act,” said Lt. Sam Craft with the commission. “This requires hours of sitting and waiting for people to leave their trash behind before we can issue citations.

“When our officers check individuals using these areas, they remind them to take their trash out with them. However, this only works to curtail littering when the officers are at these sites.”

For these reasons, Craft is asking for visitors’ help in policing the sites each time they visit.

“Because the vast majority of our public access areas have no trash receptacles, it’s very important for visitors to adopt a ‘pack it in, pack it out’ mentality when they visit one of these areas,” Craft said. “That is, anything they bring with them — beverages, food, fishing line, whatever it may be, they need to take with them when they leave.

“The Wildlife Commission provides these areas at no cost to anyone who wants to go hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife watching or just enjoy nature. These areas are your areas, but we need your help to keep them clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.”

Report violations anonymously by calling the Commission’s toll-free wildlife violations number, 800-662-7137.

As part of the agency’s mission to provide the public with outdoor opportunities, the Wildlife Commission manages more than 2 million acres of public game land, owns or manages more than 220 boating access areas and approximately 196 public fishing areas across North Carolina. Keeping these areas clean for the public can be time consuming for Commission staff, leaving them little time to perform other, more important work.

“This campaign isn’t about issuing littering citations, but helping people realize that when they take their trash with them, it frees up our wildlife technicians to create more public access for hunters, boaters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, as well as to perform much-needed maintenance and habitat work, instead of picking up litter,” Craft said.

For more information on public access areas, including interactive maps on game lands, and fishing and boating areas in North Carolina, visit www.ncwildlife.org<http://www.ncwildlife.org/fishing>

Filed in: Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors

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