Packing trash home not likely to be successful
Those who have been in the Yuma area awhile know that each winter thousands of people descend on our area to enjoy the sand dunes, many coming from the Los Angeles area and even farther away. There are so many local residents who enjoy the dunes during the cooler months.
This annual pilgrimage is under way again. The Thanksgiving holiday is often a peak time for the crowds who take long weekends to spend more time having fun in the sand with their ATVs and sand buggies.
Another predictable part of the treks to the sand dunes is that all these people will generate trash - lots of it. In fact, one of the annual events of the season is a big trash clean-up day by local sand dunes enthusiasts.
There may be more trash for them to pick up in the future because the Bureau of Land Management plans to eliminate trash collection in the Imperial Sand Dunes starting in late January. Trash collection bins that had formerly been placed in strategic areas will be removed.
A BLM official said on the agency's Web site that it has become too costly to continue providing trash services for dunes visitors.
Instead the new motto will be "Pack It Home" - meaning whatever visitors bring to the recreation area must be taken back with them, including their trash.
While it is an admirable idea, it is likely the agency will spend more time and money trying to enforce the requirement than if it had simply continued to collect the trash in the first place.
Human nature being what it is, it is likely people will continue to dump trash when they think no one is looking. Perhaps they will be caught, perhaps they won't, but it will happen.
One need only look around in our local desert areas to see the impact of illegal trash dumping.
Do we want to see the same thing happen in the dunes? Providing some conveniently-located trash containers at least helps reduce the probability this will happen.
Trash is like graffiti. If you let it remain it attracts more and eventually degrades the area. It is better to expend the money to deal with it rather than dismiss the problem.
Even if BLM enforcement convinces people to take the trash with them, it is likely some people will dump it along the way before getting home, shoving the dunes trash problem off on someone else.