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Dozens of bags of trash cleaned up on Lee Creek

Trash has been piling up around Lee Creek, and one man is looking to help stop it.

VAN BUREN, Ark. — On Tuesday, June 28, Adriene Lasko went out to Lee Creek off Highway 220 to go swimming. He found the popular swimming destination littered with trash.

Lasko spent nearly six hours picking up about 630 pounds - yes, pounds - of trash left behind by previous guests. The total amount of waste filled up more than 40 large trash bags that Lasko took to a dump.

Places like Lee Creek and Natural Dam are local favorites in the River Valley and both operate under 'pack in, pack out' conditions. Meaning any trash you bring with you should be taken with you when you leave. These conditions also mean there are no trash bins or any agencies regularly monitoring for trash pick up.

Terence Peck with the US Forest Service says people, "aren't taking into account the people that are coming in after them. They went out there and enjoyed themselves, enjoyed the scenery, they enjoyed camping, and then left the trash behind. The next person that comes in has to see that."

Even with the efforts of Lasko, there was still visible trash in the parking lot, near the bank, and even in Lee Creek when I went out to look Friday afternoon.

"Unfortunately, this is just a common thing," says Sarah Cranford, a Lee Creek visitor Friday.

Cranford wasn't alone in this feeling. Rena Alber was also out enjoying the cool water at Lee Creek but says any time she is out at the creek with Cranford or by herself, she tries to clean up anything she sees.

"We came out here the last time, there was a bunch of trash and then we even went up and picked up a lot of trash," said Alber. "We had like three bags we took with us, but there was so much piled up we couldn't take it with us. Everything we come out here, we pick up trash and take it with us."

A little down the highway in Natural Dam, locals have been coming together to help pick up trash left behind there. Some even placing their own trash bins.

While the idea is good, Peck from the US Forest Service says, sometimes this can create more issues of trash. If these private receptacles aren't monitored frequently, it can lead to more trash being left behind.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful director, Colbie Jones is encouraged by the work of the group in Natural Dam and was impressed to hear of Lasko. She hopes anyone that is interested in helping clean up our natural areas find others with similar interests and reach out to her organization for more support. 

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