Give a Hoot

I’ve spent a lot of time in the South Pacific, mostly on small islands. I love the people, the culture, the food – all of it except the trash. I can be on a small beach on a tiny island and see trash left there by people. This isn’t trash that washes up, it’s left by locals and tourists.

I asked a Chamorro (native to Guam) friend who used to be a park ranger in Idaho and he said he thought it was because people who had spent their whole lives on the island didn’t understand how rare the beauty of the place was and took it for granted.

I bring this up because I decided to get away this weekend by driving to the coast, then turning inland and following the Chetco as far as possible to find a remote camping site. I love to camp, but I don’t like campground. That’s why I like dispersed camping on Forest Service and BLM lands.

I got there after dark and had to back out of a few spots that were already occupied before finding a desolate camping spot right on the Chetco, just 15 feet from the river bank. Perfect! The dogs were able to wander around and not disturb anyone as I looked at the stars and counted satelittes.

I woke the next morning anticipating spending time just “dogging around” on the river. As soon as the dogs were out of the truck, they began exploring again. One look showed me why they were so anxious to get out of the truck.

There was trash everywhere. Empty beer and soda cans. empty hot dog packages, empty chip bags. Zed was digging in the sand behind a bush and I saw white toilet paper. Gross.

I had to put them back in the truck before they made themselves sick. I packed up and left disgusted.

Oregon is a beautiful state, but perhaps – like some South Pacific islands – people take it for granted.

Clean up your act, Oregon – I doubt there were many tourists who found their way to this remote site.


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    Kenn Altine

    Kenn Altine is the executive director of, the Southern Oregon Humane Society. He and the SoHumane staff are committed to helping cats and dogs that have lost everything, including the only home they may have ever known. Through the ... Read Full
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