SPRINGDALE — A summer of reduced patrols at The Narrows, one of the most popular sections of Zion National Park, means rangers have encountered an uptick in trash, graffiti, and even human waste in the area.
According to a release from the park, while The Narrows stayed open to the public all summer long, rangers could not patrol the area as often as usual due to a toxin in the water.
"Since a reported pet fatality in July 2020, Zion National Park staff have monitored cyanotoxin-producing algal blooms in several water bodies inside park boundaries on a monthly basis," the park said.
According to park officials, the toxin is under control and is being monitored closely. Since the beginning of summer, a ranger they called Ranger John was the first to patrol the area.
"Ranger John" walked less than a mile in The Narrows to acquire about 14 pounds of trash, nine of which were human feces, the park said. He wrote:
"The graffiti was the worst I've ever seen, it seemed like the entire stretch I walked had something left on the rock: a handprint, a name, and I won't go into detail about the poop. All in all, I picked up 14 pounds of trash (nine pounds were human waste) and cleaned probably 1,000 handprints or etchings in less than a mile. While it hurts to see such a unique and beautiful place treated like this, I feel honored that I have the responsibility to protect it."
Zion Park officials added, "Even muddy handprints can last a long time in a region that gets little rain. Leaving anything behind is not appropriate."
It is a reminder to all to Leave No Trace when visiting national parks.
Zion National Park officials ask you take the pledge to Leave No Trace by disposing of your waste properly:
Dispose of Waste Properly
- Pack it in, pack it out. Carry out all trash, including food wrappers, apple cores, fruit peels, nutshells, and toilet paper. Dispose of all waste in a proper trash can or dumpster. Recycle the rest.
- Use the restroom before hiking. Be prepared to pack out human waste, toilet paper, diapers, and hygiene products. Human waste disposal bags are highly recommended to transport solid waste. All human waste must be carried out of the Virgin River Narrows in waste disposal bags.