Tuesday, April 15, 2014

D.C. Denizen Decries Trash, Tourists

A little whining about dirty tourist abusing the nation's capitol from the Bay Journal, the house organ of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program by Whitney Pipkin, freelance writer:

Cherry blossoms bring tourists, loads of trash to D.C: D.C. trash crews were overwhelmed with an influx of tourists this weekend as the cherry blossoms bloomed.
Whiney Whitney and husband

My husband and I had just flown back into Reagan National Airport in Alexandria on Sunday afternoon to be greeted by the cherry blossoms — and tourism season — in full bloom. It's a lovely sight, if you're not stuck in a taxi trying to get home.

When we did finally make it home, we decided we couldn't miss out on the perfect weather-blossoms combination. We took our taxi driver's word that the "cherry blossoms are 100-percent full bloom today" and metroed in to join the tourists in downtown D.C.

The cherry blossoms, though late for the city's annual festival in their honor, were all they were advertised to be. Giant clusters of light pink blooms played backdrop to thousands of tourists (and locals like us) and their pictures. We watched little girls and boys climb into the trees to surround themselves with the clusters, couples canoodling against their trunks and groups picknicking beneath their shade.
Washington DC cherry blossoms from Potomac River
That's supposed be picnicking, but you're the journalist, not me.  So far so good. But now, the downer.
And we saw trash. Lots of trash. Nearly every receptacle along the National Mall was piled high and overflowing with trash. The light breeze that makes cherry blossoms into springtime confetti blew some of the trash across the just-green grass and gravel walkways. It looked as though people picknicking had just left their waste or perhaps thrown it into the air — was this some sort of foreign springtime ritual? Trash the Mall on Cherry Blossom Day?
I guess it wasn't the Tea Party visiting the mall, since they make it a point to clean up their trash.
I assured my husband, who wanted to spend the afternoon picking up all the trash instead of enjoying the blooms, that D.C. has crews devoted to the task. They just seemed to be taking the day off.

Then I heard on the radio the next day and read in The Washington Post that that's pretty much what happened. We had actually witnessed an improvement on the mounds of trash that had overwhelmed crews by mid-morning, according to the reports.
I'm shocked that they didn't whip out the old saw about how Republicans had cut their budget.
Robert Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks, told the Post that the situation “wasn’t acceptable” and that he called for additional crews to deal with the trash at noon on Sunday. He said it would be difficult to catch up on the mess once they'd fallen behind, at least until people began to leave.

My first thought was that I hope they clean up the trash before it enters not only thousands of cherry blossom photos but — more importantly — the capital's major waterways. Trash and debris are the ugliest pollution problems facing tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay and one of the easiest to address (when trash bins aren't overflowing, that is).
Trash boom (with trash) on the Anacostia River
Trash is a big issue in D.C., which must rank well up there somewhere high in the rankings of trashiest cities for a variety of reasons.  The amount that rolls off the streets, through it's storm drains and into the Rivers is truly impressive. I say this as a connoisseur of dirty rivers.
I'm sure crews are busy remedying the issue today, while still battling the high numbers of tourists in the area. I hope they make headway before a projected rainfall hits tonight, which could wash much of the trash into gutters and rivers. Trash is an issue with which Baltimore waterways and the Anacostia River have acutely struggled. And it's one of the main pollutants volunteers are working so hard to clean out of area rivers this month with dozens of Earth Day cleanup projects in the area. It was a sad sight to see so much of it piling up during a tourism week when the city is on parade for its natural beauty.
OK, OK, I'm overreacting a little.  I'm sure Whitney (and her husband and baby) are perfectly nice people, but I found the tone of the article condescending to the citizen who visit D.C., an attitude typical of the government drones and their parasites symbionts who inhabit the region.

1 comment:

  1. Might I suggest the problem is not the tourists (whom periodically ebb and flow through the capitol for various events) but a Park Service that is apparently too stupid to put on enough crews or provide enough trash receptacles in the high traffic areas during a known period of high attendance? I know from experience that they often do a piss poor job cleaning up the debris from the Potomac River down along Hains Point in East Potomac Park ... not to mention allow the concrete pedestrian walkway deteriorate to the point of dangerousness over what must be surely decades of neglect ... a mere few hundred yards from their Park HQ.