Going The Extra Mile(s) At Gates Of The Arctic National Park And Preserve

Backcountry Ranger Adam at Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve hauling an old metal drum out of the park. NPS photo.

The roadsides, trails and shorelines of our national parks would be a lot less attractive without the hard work of volunteers, park employees and conscientious visitors who pick up trash left by others. Every now and then, however, we learn about someone who has gone the literal "extra mile" many times over to help make a park a better place.

If you were looking for a spot on the planet that you might expect to be relatively pristine, one good choice would seem to be Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

This park includes nearly 8.5 million acres and lies entirely above the Arctic Circle. The area's website notes, "This vast landscape does not contain any roads or trails. Visitors discover intact ecosystems where people have lived with the land for thousands of years. Wild rivers meander through glacier-carved valleys, caribou migrate along age-old trails, endless summer light fades into aurora-lit night skies of winter. It remains virtually unchanged except by the forces of nature."

Unfortunately, even this wild piece of Alaska isn't entirely free of the leftovers of people.

The accompanying photo of a ranger at Gates of the Arctic is described on the Alaska National Parks Facebook page: "Meet Ranger Adam from Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, shown here hauling an old barrel out of the backcountry to maintain the wilderness. He says: "One of our most important goals as backcountry law enforcement rangers is wilderness protection."

Ranger Adam also notes, "There are lots of old abandoned 55 gallon drums scattered around the Arctic from a bygone era. This is one that was probably abandoned and then turned into an animal trap."

A timely reminder that all of us can help tidy things up a bit during any park visit... but most of our "litter pickup" efforts are a lot easier than this one!