These are the words of the federal government, from a new guide to Rocky Mountain National Park:
“If your friend is a frequent pooper, suggest taking care of that before hiking. If nature calls, plan ahead – bring a waste bag, or research tips on how to poop in the woods. Friends don’t let friends go to the bathroom near water sources. Just think, you might be drinking from that water source the next day!”
It’s my favorite quote from today’s New York Times story on the park, and not just because “frequent poopers” is a funny set of syllables.
The thing is that all us humans are frequent poopers, at least when you’re thinking on the scale of the Rocky Mountains. There are so many of us (record numbers!) and we constantly shed so much waste, far more than the park can deal with on its own.
I think the “if your friend” message is particularly clever because it uses our social ties to encourage better behavior. It shifts the tables so people dumping on the tundra aren’t worried about being caught by one of the few park rangers — they’re worried about what RMNP’s 4 million other yearly visitors will say.
Although, as always, I’d advise being careful if you decide it’s time to tell somebody about their ecological impacts.
Per NYT: “A few years ago, a man was punched in the face after politely telling another visitor that he needed to stay off the tundra to protect the fragile ecosystem,” a parks spokeswoman said.