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'Disregard for our state': Trash, human waste left along Oregon coastal and forest trails

The Oregon Department of Forestry and the Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce encourage visitors to enjoy our natural wonders, but not leave behind trash and poop.

TILLAMOOK COUNTY, Ore. — With many Oregonians traveling within the state during the pandemic, some community leaders say they're seeing an increase of trash and human feces left along forest and coastal trails.

"Leave no trace, that's our motto," said Jim Gersbach of the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).

Gersbach said not enough people are following that motto, leaving many areas and campsites trashed.

"That added visitation is sometimes accompanied by less than responsible behavior," Gersbach said.

Justin Aufdermauer with the Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce said he has never seen anything like it.

"We have people defecating on the side of trails, leaving toilet paper everywhere. And it's not like a couple places, it's a lot," Aufdermauer said. "You wouldn't just go to the bathroom on your front yard and leave it there."

"And that's a health hazard during COVID," Gersbach added.

Because many public restrooms are closed, officials said people should be prepared. If someone must use the bathroom in nature, Gersbach said people should go off the trail, stay away from water, and bury waste in the ground. 

When it comes to litter at campsites and beaches, Gersbach said many volunteer cleanup crews are not able to gather as often during the pandemic.

"There's no little magic pixies in there picking up all that trash for you," he said. "If you were able to carry it in, you should definitely be able to carry it back out again." 

As a liaison for the business community, Aufdermauer emphasized crowds are not a concern, as long as people take precautions.

"We want all the visitors we can get," Aufdermauer said. "We just want them to be responsible."