Keeping Up Appearances
Routine Park Maintenance (continued from Page 14)
If your visitors reach your park and find that signs are tagged with graffiti, or the gate is falling off its hinges, or there is litter all over the ground what do you think their perception of the park or the park rangers will be? Do you think they will care about leashing their dog or following any park regulation?
Most likely not, and when you go to enforce those regulations the first reaction of the visitors when caught in violation will be “Really, all you do is just bust people instead of taking care of the park?”.
It usually only takes 15 to 20 minutes to clean up an entry point, but it makes a world of difference. A supervisor of mine used to use the expression of “Treat it like its your own ranch. Would you want your ranch to look trashed?"
Here is a little check list that I go through every time I go through one of our entries:
Everything I need to accomplish these goals, or at least most of it will fit in a small tool box. A couple cans of spray paint, silicone oil (for locks), Goof Off, a knife, a socket set, and maybe a few spare signs or hardware. The impact from cleaning up your entry points, and being seen doing so will make the public realize there is someone who cares about this place. In turn they will realize they too should care about it, or at the very least should follow the rules since there is a Ranger out and about very often.
In parks there is a saying, litter attracts more litter. Taking that 5 minutes to pick up litter might make other people do the right thing and place their trash in a trash can rather then throw it on the ground. And you don’t have to get every piece of litter to be effective, the act of you picking up trash shows to others that 1.) you care about the park and 2.) you are setting the example for others to follow.
In the end how do you want to be remembered by your visitors. As the ranger who took care of your park, or as the person who ignored the trash and litter to get one more citation that day. I’m not saying to ignore violations, but that a little bit of an investment in maintaining your park goes a long way towards building a relationship with your community, and in the long run may inspire people to do the right thing rather then what is easy.