Smokies rangers and Gatlinburg cops are cracking down on litter sources

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20210329 Ranger Speaking with Driver of Vehicle with Unsecured Trash

Put a lid on it: Rangers, cops targeting unsecured garbage loads to reduce roadside litter

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers and the Gatlinburg Police Department made 37 traffic stops targeting insufficiently contained garbage during an enforcement campaign on the Spur on March 28 and March 29.

Unsecured trash and debris blowing from vehicles is a major source of litter along the Spur, which is used by 10 million vehicles per year and is the most heavily traveled — and heavily littered — roadway in the national park.

Rangers and police officers issued 25 verbal warnings and 13 citations during the anti-litter patrols, according to a press release from the national park.

Officials said garbage hauled from rental properties and homes often blows out of trucks and other vehicles and is a major source of litter along the busy road, which runs five miles between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

“With increasing visitation trends and more use of park roads for business and recreation, we need everyone to do their part to keep our roads litter free,” Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash said in a park press release announcing the targeted patrols. “To protect our scenic values and wildlife, it is vital that we prevent trash from ever being discarded in a national park.” 

Law enforcement ensured the motorists hauling trash "were complying with Tennessee State Code 39-14-507, which states that any motor vehicle that transports litter, or any material likely to be blown off, is required to have the material either in an enclosed space or fully covered by a tarp," according to the park service. 

The amount of litter that has accompanied increased visitation is not just a national park concern.

“The city of Gatlinburg is very concerned about the litter issues in the area and is willing to work with the national park and coordinate efforts, such as this targeted enforcement event,” said Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Cameron Ogle in the combined release. “Together we can all make a difference to help keep our area beautiful for everyone to enjoy.” 

Rangers and Gatlinburg police plan more such litter enforcement patrols throughout the year.

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