Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area to stop picking up trash to save money

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The trash cans are going away. At many of the boat ramps, picnic areas, and parking lots in Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA), the brown receptacles have already been picked up by maintenance workers and packed off to a storage facility. Of 17 locations along the park's 48-mile stretch of river, only four will keep their cans: Abbotts Bridge, Powers Island, Paces Mill, and the fitness loop trail at Cochran Shoals (between Columns Drive and Interstate North.) Visitors should still bring their own bags and plan to pack out their trash, regardless of which unit they are visiting.

"We will continue collecting trash at receptacles at our busiest locations," said CRNRA Superintendent Patty Wissinger. "But there are a lot of trash cans in the park that are time-consuming to empty because they are far apart and not as frequently used. By eliminating these, we save significant labor costs." Park officials calculate that they will save $76,000 between April 1 and October 1 by removing 134 cans from 13 sites.

Due to sequestration, the park will be hiring fewer seasonal maintenance workers this summer. After an extensive review of the various tasks done by these workers, including emptying trash cans, mowing grass, and cleaning restrooms, the last task was deemed the most important.

"We had to make a reduction, so we chose trash removal and mowing," said Wissinger. "Clean restrooms are too important for visitor health and the overall experience of the park, so that's where we're going to keep our maintenance folks working."

Reduced mowing will become apparent when the weather warms up and grass starts growing. "Some parts of the park will start having a more natural look," said Wissinger. "This will be a summer to enjoy the wildflowers instead of the lawn."

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