From household items to animal carcasses, Wildlife, Fish and Parks has seen it all scattered across Montana’s public lands. Now, one family is doing their part to help keep Montana beautiful.
"Pack it in, pack it out, and then some," that’s Drew Nettleton’s motto when it comes to keeping public lands free of debris.
Nettleton took it as an opportunity to teach his daughter, Payton, a lesson in keeping things clean when they ran across a huge mess at the Helena Valley Reservoir a couple of days ago. The pair picked up every can and bag. There was so much junk, it filled an entire construction-duty trash bag.
"It makes me sad, because, like, if one animal ate something, it would actually poison them. So, I figured we'd pick it up," said Payton Nordahl, Nettleton’s daughter.
Sadly, FWP officials say trash and unwanted materials are constantly being dumped on public lands. In fact, a bunch of used construction materials were dumped at this reservoir just last week and people dump dead animals here as well.
"You see it on the BLM property, forest service property, and state property, anywhere public access easy to drive to you'll find this stuff," said Justin Hawkaluk, Game Warden Sgt. for FWP.
There might not be a solution to this problem. Trashcans are few and far between because, according to Hawkaluk, they might create an even bigger mess. Without the staff to monitor waste receptacles, FWP fears people would use them to get rid of large amounts of personal items.
"I emphasize for people to report that kind of stuff, if they find dumping or littering sites on public properties," said Hawkaluk.
If caught or found guilty of dumping, perpetrators could face fines of more than $100, or, if you are a hunter or angler, you could lose your license for up to a year. Still, people take the risk, because it can be cheaper than going to a transfer station.
Luckily, there's folks like Payton and her dad who help clean up Montana’s public lands, helping keep them beautiful.
"We love to be outside and if we don't take care of it, it’s not going to be here."