CLEVELAND — Summer is here, and our gorgeous natural resources throughout Northeast Ohio are open. But recent pictures on social media suggest it's time for a gentle reminder to respect nature.
Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman says the park system is seeing record numbers in visitors.
“I've seen over a 137% increase in usage. And so we've really tried to promote 'pack in pack out,' but there are certain situations where people aren't taking it home, and we've seen things piling up in certain areas. Our crews, by 6 o'clock, 6:30, have everything cleaned up."
And, while crews are doing their part, they are feeling the financial impact of COVID-19.
“We are running short staffed. I mean, we had to lay off and furlough a little over 650 people. We're running with much less seasonals," Zimmerman said.
So, it's time for park and beachgoers to embrace cleaning up, and that "pack-in, pack-out" mentality.
In short, enjoy that beautiful day at the beach with your family. Grab drinks and snacks from the beach house or food stand, but if you bring anything with you make sure to take it home.
As a wildlife rehabilitation specialist at Lake Erie Nature and Science Center (LENSC), Jim Jasinski knows firsthand the harmful effects litter can have on animals.
“The number one thing that we see here is fishing line (on animals)," Jasinski said. “I just had a call today about a fox wrapped in fishing line. It's got a fish hook in its face."
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, LENSC is not accepting injured animals from the public right now. They are receiving wildlife from police, fire and animal control, though.
The message is pretty clear: Enjoy the outdoors -- but keep it clean. If you see some trash, just throw it out.
“Many people don't know what's actually trash, and that it's harmful to the environment, harmful to our animals," Jasinski said.
"We would really love the people's help, but we also do understand. There are dumpsters in the parking lot for people to use," Zimmerman said.
To learn how to help the Cleveland Metroparks, click HERE.
To learn more about the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center's initiative, click HERE.