It’s Our Park, Let’s Keep It Clean!
By Bruce Rottink, Volunteer Nature Guide and Retired Research Forester
Tryon Creek State Natural Area (TCSNA) is a place which many critters love. Some critters both love the park, and live in it. These range from pileated woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) to raccoons (Procyon lotor) and more. Other creatures don’t live at the park, but they love to visit. These other creatures include humans (Homo sapiens) and their pet dogs (Canis lupus familiaris).
As human beings, we’ve learned that we need to respect and take care of the park if we expect it to be here for future generations. We’ve even figured out that to preserve the park as a place we actually want to come and visit, we need lavatories where we can deposit our feces and urine in the least environmentally disruptive manner.
For our other major non-resident animal, dogs, we’ve got all the feces-related supplies visitors need, and a helpful reminder, at the entrances to the major trials, like you see here:
Based on several years of personal observation, the vast majority of humans who bring their dogs to the park are 101% responsible human beings, who clean up after their dogs. I am happy to share the park with people and dogs like this. One such person, whom I’ve chatted with many times, is pictured below!
And the good news is you don’t have to take it home with you because there are garbage cans on several of the trails near the Nature Center, like the one pictured below at the junction of Old Main Trail and Big Fir Trail:
Sadly, there are what I believe to be a fairly small number of dog walkers who just don’t take the effort to clean up after their dog has a bowel movement. If you need evidence, take a peek below (and this is just a small part of my collection of “dog poop” pictures.)
The Downside of Dog Poop!
I sometimes come to the park primarily for a quiet walk where I can take in views of the beautiful woods. When I see fresh, rotting or bagged dog poop all along, and sometimes on the trail, it really breaks the mood.
Aesthetics aside, dog poop in the park raises other issues. Dog poop can be contaminated with eggs of parasitic roundworms (Toxocara spp.) or hookworms (Ancylostoma spp). People can get these parasites by coming into contact with soil which has been contaminated by dog poop (reference: Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta).
Several dog diseases are spread by dog poop as well. These include Parvo virus, Giardia and Coccidia. These diseases are commonly spread by dog poop. If you walk your dog at TCSNA, don’t you want it to be safe from these feces-spread hazards? Beyond that, TCSNA’s coyotes are also susceptible to the Parvo virus.
What are the alternatives?
Seriously folks, is leaving dog poop sitting around, bagged or unbagged, something you would do at your own home? Tryon Creek is a State Natural Area. You own this place. But it is not just YOUR park, it is OUR park. I, along with more than 4 million other Oregonians, also own a piece of this natural treasure! Let’s work to keep our park clean.
As indicated above, dog poop bags are available at trailheads. These are provide by Oregon State Parks for your use. There are garbage cans at most trailheads and a few major intersections for depositing your full dog poop bag.
To the vast majority of dog walkers who clean up after their animals: Thank you for helping to keep TCSNA clean and safe. I’m glad you and your dog have found your forest home here.