Maryland Department of Natural Resources...


July 15, 1993

WHEN THE Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced last spring that it was getting rid of all trash cans in state parks as a budget-saving move, many people thought it was nuts. This newspaper endorsed the action as another small step for government to do more with less and for it to turn over greater responsibility to private citizens, who now must bag their own refuse and carry it with them out of the park.

The department says that it is pleased with the results midway through the program's initial summer. Park rangers report not much waste left behind; in fact, after a long Memorial Day weekend on Hart-Miller Island, employees found only one wayward bag of trash.

The department said it had a little more difficulty getting compliance at the Chesapeake Bay beach off Sandy Point State Park.

And a recent experience of ours at the state-owned beach at Assateague Island, near Ocean City, also was not exemplary. Contrary to the state's own description of the program, no employee handed us a trash bag or even mentioned the recent change when we paid our fee to enter the park. We wouldn't describe the facility as the dirtiest we've ever seen, but there did seem to be a lot of people wondering where to leave soda cans, etc., and more than a few just deposited them on the beach. If this initiative is going to work, garbage bags must be readily available, particularly at a beach where sunbathers may be less inclined and less prepared to tote their trash than people going to a state forest for a picnic.

"Carry in, carry out" is a good program, but the fact that park visitors are now being asked to shoulder greater responsibility for trash removal shouldn't wholly absolve the state of its role.

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