Show of hands... How many times have you visited the refuge and saw trash strewn about your journey? It's mind-numbing how little the majority of people respect places like this. Even those who love nature, like fisherman. They tend to leave their trash along the lake shore, or even casually throw trash in the lakes they fish. Granted, I would label my fellow anglers as the worst offenders, but I know hikers and hunters do their fair share of littering. The real sad part is, they don't even realize it.

I've had this conversation before with other anglers and each one swears they don't, but that little clipped tag-end of fishing line you probably just release into the wild is trash. Broken bobbers, worm containers, hooks, broken rods, gear, bait cans and small bags are easily found at any of the refuge lakes. Even at the hard to access bodies of water. The worst offender of them all is the piles and woven mounds of fishing line.

If you walk the trails, odds are you see water bottles casually lost along someones way. Foil wrappers of candy and protein bars, single use coffee cups, broken shoe laces, and once, an empty and abandoned day-pack. Someone may have lost it or broke it on the trail, then took the time and effort to carry its contents to the car, but not the now worthless bag. It's crazy how lazy that is.

Hunters don't get a pass either. While you don't see much waste from hunters, it's hard to miss the empty aerosol can of attractant, or those doe-urine things you hang in a tree. Again, probably not something any hunter meant to leave, but forgetting something is no different than littering. Carelessness is carelessness.

If you want to turn over a new leaf, the National Public Land's Day event is at the end of the month. Even if you just pop out there to gather a grocery bag full of trash, it helps. And I understand the thought process. You probably think "Well I never litter when I'm out there, so why should I pick it up?" Well, National Public Land's Day is a day to be better than those who do litter. We're not picking up after them, we're setting a better example. Leadership and attitude is contagious. Spread some of that.

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