Take It With You When You Go

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By Justin Pickett

Plastic bottles and bags. Flip flops. Spent beer cans. A Uniroyal tire that was obviously never rotated. Even creepy doll heads. It’s an unfortunate reality of fishing – Trash.

Walk the banks of any river or stream that either flows through or borders a metropolitan area and you will find what looks like the contents of a nasty, old, run-down department store that just projectile vomited its inner contents all over the river. However, these problems aren’t limited to those waters surrounded by concrete jungles. Walking along a local stream deep in the North Georgia Mountains last week, I found several pieces of trash left by those who use that wildlife management area to camp, hike, bike, and fish. Unfortunately, it is commonplace in even some of the more remote areas of our national and state lands to find trash as well. 

 It’s ugly, it’s sad, it sucks, and it’s our fault.

Here in Georgia, the Chattahoochee is the lifeblood of many of the state’s largest cities and metropolitan areas. In the metro-Atlanta area, we rely heavily on its water for everything from drinking water to agricultural, recreational, and industrial use. If we didn’t have this resilient river flowing through the heart of our capital, the many businesses, state parks, jobs, recreational activities, and agricultural resources would be nonexistent. What’s more, our dependence on this river will be a never-ending relationship that is certainly destined to become even more strained than it already is over the next decade and beyond, but here we are…trashing the very thing we depend on the most. It’s a classic case of “give an inch, take a mile”. The Chattahoochee River is giving and giving, and even morphing over time to adapt to our human wants and needs. However, just like you and I, the ‘Hooch has a breaking point when it comes to how much crap we are able to tolerate. Where or when will that breaking point occur? Who knows, but if we continue down the road of poisoning our own blood, we will certainly figure it out. It’s almost become human nature… Take something to its absolute limit, and only when the tipping point is reached, something bad happens and we have that “oh shit, we screwed up” moment will we step in and intervene. We need to do a little better.

The Chattahoochee is far from being alone, though. It doesn’t matter where you live, your state has a river(s) that is battling the same daily barrage of garbage. Some cities and states are better than others about taking care of their rivers and streams, but there is always something threatening to change that. Politics. Growing populations. Industrial and agricultural growth. Land development. These are just broad categories, and each one has its own set of problems. Disputes over water rights. Increased water demands. Illegal dumping. Runoff. Erosion. The list goes on, and on. 

Our rivers and streams have enough problems.

Screen-Shot-2018-06-13-at-11.55.39-AMYour trash doesn’t need to be thrown into the mix. Trust me, there is enough there already. We have all left some trash behind at one point or another. Maybe you were in a hurry one day and forgot a plastic bottle on the streambank. Maybe you didn’t realize that a plastic bag fell from your pack on the hike back to the car. It isn’t malicious. It happens. Yes, there are people out there that could care less about what they leave behind. However, for every careless person out there that doesn’t care, there are other outdoor enthusiasts that do care. If we are willing to take the time to pick up any trash that we see while we are out on the water, then those that choose to litter and trash our waters will have a lesser negative impact on the natural resources that we respect. It only takes a couple minutes out of your day at most. Let’s be more mindful of what we pack in and pack out, and if you see some trash, then take it with you when you go. Join a clean up group or volunteer a day to cleaning up your local stream or river. Not only will the river look better and be healthier for it, but you will be able to enjoy it even more!

Looking for an opportunity to join a cause, clean up your local waters, and also have the chance at winning some sweet gear? Check out the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited and their new #CLEANMYWATER campaign! You don’t have to be a Georgia resident, a member of TU, or clean up Georgia waters. The contest is open to any and every one that is willing to get out on the water and take the time to do a little clean up. It’s all about making our rivers and streams a better place! No matter where your home waters are! Check out the details here! 



Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “Take It With You When You Go

  1. Justin – Thanks so much for the fantastic article on the Hooch and the trash problem not only here but across the country. We have to stop this mindset of ‘someone else will pick up my garbage.’ We’re trying to do that via #cleanmywater. We appreciate the coverage and hope that G&G will continue to support our many conservation efforts here in Georgia.

  2. Is G&G involved or heading up any campaigns on this matter or going to start a campaign to further cleanup actions in the mountains?

  3. In the Tampa Bay estuaries, there is so much trash…I have picked up from the banks and floating, so much trash, including derelict crab traps. The best was I found a woman’s purse in a large trash bag near Ft Desoto, that I turned in to local law enforcement. I received a call a few day later from detectives wanting info on where I found it.

  4. I’ve started collecting stream side trash on my way back to the truck when I’m done fishing. I put it in my net. It makes for good fish karma, I think. Regardless, it makes me feel good.

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