GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, Tenn. — A father-daughter duo has declared themselves the “Government Shutdown Litter Patrol” and are working together to pick up the accumulating trash in one of Tennessee’s national parks.
The partial federal government shutdown, now into its 15th day, has forced a leave of absence of thousands of federal government employees. This has left many national parks without most of the rangers and other staff members who keep parks running, which unfortunately has caused an increase in litter.
However, Marc Newland and his daughter Erica took matters into their own hands on Thursday.
According to Newland’s Facebook post, he and Erica were looking for a daddy-daughter day after “real-life responsibilities” had impeded on them spending quality time together.
So, when the two finally had some time to spend together Erica thought their time would be best spent collecting litter and Newland “couldn’t have agreed more.”
The two hit three trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — Little River, Jake’s Creek and the Laurel Falls trailheads.
Newland said they were pleasantly surprised by the lack of litter at Little River, but had their work cut out for them at Jake’s Creek. After the first two trailheads, their trash bags were reportedly full and they actually ran out of time.
The father-daughter duo left the park for a previously scheduled appointment and returned to hit Laurel Falls later that day.
“It was a fun and very rewarding day for both of us ,” Newland said in his post, “And Erica says that she would like to challenge other hikers to take one day off from getting in miles and impressive vista pics and instead, give back by grabbing a trash bag, heading to the park and collecting some litter!”
According to the park’s website, for the remainder of the government shutdown, there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services anywhere in the Great Smoky Mountains. This includes restrooms, trash collection, facilities, and road maintenance.