ATLANTA - If the partial government shutdown continues much longer, a local conservancy group will likely organize volunteer teams to go out and pick up trash.
There's not yet a serious problem of trash over-flowing containers along and inside the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. But that could soon change says Sally Bethea, board president of the Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy (CPC).
"With no end in sight for this shutdown we've got to help take care of our park,” Bethea tells WSB Radio.
The CPC works with the National Parks Service to assist in programs and volunteers for the CRNRA.
Over the past week, the Conservancy has been assessing all 15 park units within the Rec Area - which stretches 48 miles from Buford Dam to the city of Atlanta. Two of the most popular sites within the National Recreation Area are Paces Mill and Cochran Shoals.
In the days since the shutdown began, there have been individuals who have taken it upon themselves to clean up areas where they hike. Bethea says her group has already lent support to local hiker groups in the trash collection effort, but a more organized effort could soon be forthcoming. "We'll be finishing our assessment here in the next couple of days and seeing where we need to really allocate volunteers to help,” says Bethea. "We'll assume that there will be more cleanups going on in the next week and certainly if this lasts into February, we'll be working very hard."
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is not the only recreation tract in metro Atlanta affected by the gridlock in Washington D.C. In Cobb County, access to the visitor’s center parking lot at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is closed. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports trash cans in that park have been sealed-off. And one handwritten sign left behind reads: “The government is currently shut down. To keep our park beautiful, PLEASE TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU.”
Bethea understands the emotional tug by many who make park and recreation area visits part of their routine – to pitch in to help. "This is one of the areas in which people do get emotional about this shutdown, is not being able to access some of their parks."
Bethea’s message to anyone using the parks and rec areas: “Do the right thing. Leave no trace. That means take everything out of the park except your footprints."
As for what is – or is not happening in D.C. "Hopefully the shutdown will end soon. It's...it's sad."