Prior to our clean up event, my husband and I joined a team of awesome NPS staff for a site visit. Richard Wiggler's Bait Co. has teamed with the National Park Service Volunteers, and created the "Reclaim the Spot" Series. I personally have never been to this specific spot, so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was a mind-blowing scene. Due to the extreme drought that we are experiencing right now, water levels of the lake dropped significantly. This place is called a "Fishing Pier." But WHERE?
The water in Lake Mead on Wednesday June 16th, 2021 reached a new low — 1070.6 feet above sea level — the lowest since it was filled in the 1930’s, according to data provided by the US Bureau of Reclamation. Lake Mead is now at 36 percent capacity — a number that will continue to fall as the reservoir’s rapid decline continues to outpace projections from just a few months earlier. Water levels are projected to drop another 20 feet by 2022. (CNN News)
Captain Wiggler comes to this location often for live bait deliveries, so he knows what it used to look like. In the past month, water levels dropped so much that he couldn't even believe it. You can't fish from the fishing pier anymore! So you know what surfaced from underwater? More ground and trash that people left.
We found so much trash! Lake Mead's beaches are quickly becoming a landfill. That's how I felt, and it made me so upset. I love going fishing, camping, swimming, hiking, taking pictures... All outdoor activities. But when I go somewhere, I would like to go somewhere beautiful, relaxing, don't have to worry about stepping on broken glass or treble hooks! I found so many barbed fishing hooks. If you are an angler or even went fishing a couple of times, you know those hooks are painful, sharp and dangerous! Can you imagine one of the treble hook that someone left on the beach got hooked on your child's foot? And you are trying to figure out how to get that hook off of their skin?
When we go fishing, we always carry an empty bottle with a cap, like a medicine bottle, and a couple of trash bags. When you need to discard any sharp object, we put all of them in the bottle, and close that cap, so when we get home, we can discard it correctly. We shouldn't have to pick up trash that somebody else left, but we do. We can't relax and fish right next to pile of trash. Can you?? So while we wait for the fish to bite, we pick up trash and clean the area, so maybe next time we come out, hoping that area will stay clean. Campsite Rule #1: Leave it better than you found it!
What bothers me the most is that; when I go to the lake, I normally see people camping as a family. That includes kids. My question is if you are leaving all the trash on site in front of kids... you know where I am going... What are you teaching your kids? Are you teaching your kids that it's OK to leave the trash randomly on the ground somewhere? What if our next generation sees it as OK to leave trash wherever they feel like it? That "someone else will clean it" mindset is causing all of the crisis we are facing in today's world. It's not the custodians' or park ranger's job to pick up your trash and clean up the site. It's part of your game to clean up your mess. You should always leave it better than you found it wherever you go, even at the public restroom!
As a photographer for this project, I walked around the entire beach to record the damage. I found a lot of beer bottles, water bottles, chairs, a folding table, gas burner, diapers, hooks & lines, plastic plates, cups, bags... Plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose in a landfill! But it doesn't stop there! Those beer bottles that are in the picture- they take one million years! So- to the person who left the mountain of empty Modelo Beer bottles... Guess what! You just made history! You are the A$$^$%# for the next million years!
Of course we are going to pick them all up this coming Saturday! We care about our planet. If you feel called to join our campaign, and reclaim these spots as part of this series, we encourage it! Many hands make light work as the saying goes! We'll be back at it in September, so stay tuned! We won't have an event, but every fishing trip is a chance to do your part, so go get it! The National Park Service Volunteers would love to have you out, and are more than willing to provide everything you need to help out! Visit www.wigglerarmy.com for more information!
My husband and I have started an on-location reporting series called "Stay True TV" as part of our efforts to spread the word regarding topics like these for outdoor enthusiasts like us! You'll be able to find the episodes on the the www.wigglerarmy.com site as part of his efforts to "Reclaim the Spot."
This blog will work in collaboration with the video content, to tell a more in-depth tale behind the scenes of each video, encouraging you to watch and read for the full experience. We hope you enjoy it, and are called to it, as we have been. Remember- "In a world full of fake- stay true. No one does you like YOU!"
Next week's episode/entry will discuss our clean up event, and the conditions at Boulder Beach! Until then, tight lines, and full trash bags!
- Kozue Maye, Author/Photography. Mike Maye, Blog Editor