January 9, 2019 10:29:44 AM
As the federal government's partial shutdown continues into its third week, the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been affected.
For most Americans, however, there are few outward indicators of the shutdown's effect thus far.
One area where the negative impact of the shutdown has been generally noticed is at our national parks. Many national parks have been closed. Others operate with a skeleton crew made up of only essential employees.
The latter is true at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, which covers 48,000 acres in Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Winston counties. The Refuge is a treasure in this area and offers wildlife viewing (gators and bald eagles are common), fishing, hiking and educational opportunities.
Since the shutdown, the refuge has furloughed nine workers. Only its director, law enforcement and fire officials remain on duty.
At some parks, there have been reports of widespread litter left behind by visitors and uncollected by the absence of park staff who would normally perform that duty.
It's an unfortunate situation, obviously, but if there is one ray of optimism to be noted in all this, it is that a visitor to the Refuge does not see the sort of litter that plagues other national parks at this time.
While the refuge employees who normally are responsible for keeping the refuge free of litter are furloughed, visitors have been stepping in and stepping up.
That says something very positive about the people who visit the Refuge. They understand and appreciate the natural beauty around them. For these visitors, that appreciation has led to action. To date, there have been no organized efforts to keep the Refuge clean during the shutdown. Visitors have taken it upon themselves to clean up after themselves and others at a time when many other parks are being buried in litter.
It is also a reminder to everyone that while there may be employees assigned to keep our neighborhoods, parks and public spaces clean, we all can and should do our part. Too often in this area we see litter along the sides of our roadways.
We honor ourselves and our communities when we take time to tidy things up.
Yes, a seemingly small gesture of picking up a soda can or a food wrapper is an act of good citizenship.
We are seeing that on a large scale at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. Each of us should be inspired to follow that example.
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