Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) and PalmettoPride kicked off the Great Trail Cleanup of South Carolina today to attack litter and illegal dumping along the Palmetto Trail. The Great Trail Cleanup will occur during April and brings together the two host organizations for the first time on a cross-state, volunteer-driven litter cleanup.
The Palmetto Trail faces significant environmental danger today from litter and illegal dumpsites. From cigarette butts to bags of household garbage to hazardous waste, trash is dumped along the Trail where people think no one is watching. Their deliberate destruction of the Palmetto Trail is both harmful to the environment and a negative impact on tourism and economic development.
“South Carolinians take extraordinary pride in the natural beauty and history of our state, but litter is an embarrassing and devastating blight.” – PCF Executive Director Natalie Britt
“South Carolinians take extraordinary pride in the natural beauty and history of our state, but litter is an embarrassing and devastating blight. Hazardous waste, in particular, can destroy ecosystems and habitats,” PCF Executive Director Natalie Britt said. “We are excited to partner with PalmettoPride on the Great Trail Cleanup, and we look forward to working with volunteers across the state on this joint effort. Working together, we can succeed.”
The Palmetto Trail, South Carolina’s premier hiking and bicycling trail, is a state treasure for residents and visitors alike. The 350-mile Trail highlights the state’s natural beauty, history and culture across 14 counties from Walhalla in the Blue Ridge Mountains to Awendaw on the Intracoastal Waterway. With 27 passages ranging from 1.1 to 47 miles, the Trail is a free public resource, easily accessible for day treks and cross-state adventures.
“The Palmetto Trail is one of those special projects that provides our citizens with access to breathtaking natural beauty and also lures in travelers seeking outdoor adventures,” said Sarah Lyles, Executive Director of PalmettoPride. “Everyone needs to understand that litter is not just an eyesore, but it can be detrimental to our quality of life on many levels.”
United Way of Spartanburg, United Way of the Midlands, and Trident United Way are partners in the Great Trail Cleanup of South Carolina. More than blight on the environment, litter and illegal dumpsites are public health issues that require changing community policies and individual attitudes and habits. The United Ways of South Carolina are committed to bringing about such change.
The state’s business community is also involved, because destruction of the Palmetto Trail affects the Trail’s potential to attract potential customers. A clean Trail invites use that, in turn, contributes to the bottom line of local businesses. Staples Inc. and Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union are leading the effort among businesses to commit volunteers and resources to the Great Trail Cleanup.
According to PalmettoPride, eradicating litter is a process involving cleanup, maintenance and changing behaviors that create litter. If communities want to end the litter problems that plague them, government and business leaders must take responsibility not only for providing necessary services to collect refuse, but also for helping change attitudes among institutions and individuals. If litter eradication is important to leaders and their actions reflect the seriousness of litter as more than an eyesore, individuals will pay attention and behaviors will change. If leaders ignore litter as regards both public health and economic priorities, they send the message that it does not matter what individuals do with their trash. PalmettoPride urges zero tolerance for litter and illegal dumping.
During the month-long Great Trail Cleanup, volunteers are encouraged to register with Palmetto Conservation to adopt and clean a section of the Palmetto Trail. PalmettoPride will provide trash bags, safety vests, and work gloves, and will arrange for trash collection (to be announced later). Because Trail cleanup must continue after April, volunteers are also encouraged to join PalmettoPride Clean Teams and adopt a Trail section for on-going cleanup.
In the Midlands, businesses and individuals can sign up to work on the Great Trail Cleanup of South Carolina during the United Way of the Midlands volunteer week, April 9–17, http://www.uway.org. For additional PCF-sponsored workdays on April 9 on Fort Jackson Passage and April 23 on Swamp Fox Passage, register on PCF’s website at www.palmettoconservation.org, click on the Events page and follow the link. For assembling your own team and selecting a Trail section to clean, please contact Kat Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org to let PCF know where you will be working and to pick up supplies (trash bags, gloves, and safety vests).