The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

COLUMN: Trash in the middle of nowhere


April 18, 2018

I grew up in an area that much like Montana had many open spaces to explore.

I was lucky enough to have two of my houses growing up that were by "desert" like locations and I could spend hours on my bike and always find a new dirt road or something interesting.

I was also able to go with family and friends to explore the vast backcountry and was always fascinated with how much open space there was. I was also really confused how much garbage and junk would end up in the middle of nowhere.

There was not a bike ride or trip in a truck that I would not find old appliances, furniture, electronics, or just a huge pile of trash.

There was also always some sort of vehicle dumped in a ditch or near the side of the road.

On one occasion I helped my cousin and his mothers side of the family when they "adopted a highway" outside of my hometown. It was near the family ranch and not necessarily an area that should not have had a lot of trash. I didn't think that it would be that hard of a days work, and the country was beautiful so I had no problem saying yes when asked to help out.

Boy was I wrong; it was a nightmare picking up the never-ending trash that is found on the side of a state highway.

I think that probably half of the trash was bottles of urine. I'm sure that is probably disgusting to read, but believe me, it was a lot grosser to have to pick them up and throw them in a bag.

There were also a lot of the normal things you'd expect to find like fast food wrappers and cups. I'm not so sure how hard it is for people to use a trash can, but it seemed to be very difficult for most of the people who traveled this road. It was inexcusable to find this much trash that could have just been thrown out at the next stop.


There was one point where my cousin and I found a "Playboy" Magazine and after nobody heard from us for a few minutes, we were busted reading it. I wonder how a "Playboy" ends up on the side of the road, but it did and it wasn't the only magazine that was out there. I don't know what goes through people's minds. I have never finished reading a book or magazine while driving down the road and chucked it out the window, but I guess some people think it's okay to do.

I really love events like the Spring Clean up in Whitehall and the Earth Day event at Lewis and Clark Caverns; I just wish people would be a lot better with where they chose to throw stuff away.

There are places to take vehicles, trash, and other items, and it would probably be a lot more convenient than dropping them in the middle of nowhere and ruining the open spaces for everyone.


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