Two weeks have passed since the start of the government shutdown, and it has been affecting operations within national parks across the country. Now, a father-daughter duo is taking it upon themselves to clean up one of their favorites: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter, Erica, spend a lot of time hiking in the park, but their most recent visit was to help preserve the public land as it continues to be trashed as a result of the government shutdown.
Some national parks have been forced to temporarily close down because they are severely understaffed. Others, like the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, are attempting to remain open and as accessible to the public as possible, despite dealing with issues such as minimal staffing.
Their website explains that campgrounds and restrooms are not operating, and neither are trash collection services:
“During the partial shutdown of the federal government due to the lapse of appropriations, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures. Roads and trails that are seasonably open will remain accessible to visitors, but emergency and rescue services will be limited. The park will not be operating campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, or providing trash collection services.”
Once Erica heard about this, she suggested she and her dad go on “litter patrol” and tackle the trash in the Smokies.
In an interview with ABC, Marc explained that the two of them collect trash during their normal hikes, but decided to focus solely on collecting trash on their most recent hike this past week.
“We regularly do cleanups around our area and always bring out litter that we run across during our hikes, but Thursday we decided to focus our efforts exclusively on litter patrol.”
He wrote about their cleanup effort in the Hike the Smokies Group on Facebook:
“First, it was off to the Little River and Jake’s Creek trailheads where we were pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t much work for us. Next, we headed to the Laurel Falls trailhead and, as expected, we had plenty of work! We headed up the trail and before we knew it, our bags were full.”
Marc explained to CBS News that he wants to do his part and make a difference, and aims to teach his daughter the same thing.
“I am not a government worker, just an avid hiker who lives just outside of our national park. We have always made an effort to clean up litter when we hike but after explaining the shutdown to Erica (our 10 year old), she was inspired to kick up our efforts and make a real difference.”
Marc got some awesome shots of his daughter on their “litter patrol” hike.
She collected all of the garbage around her with a smile on her face!
How cool is this?! Marc Newland and his daughter didn't want the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to get trashed during the government shutdown, so they took matters into their own hands. They picked up bags full of trash on the popular hiking trails and cleaned up the park! pic.twitter.com/CidSqmcns2
— Marc Sallinger (@MarcWBIR) January 4, 2019
Locals were proud of the trash-tackling father-daughter duo, who went to great lengths to ensure the Smokies stayed clean.
Marc explained that they are going to come back and continue their cleanup efforts:
“We didn’t quite make it to the waterfall before we had to turn back to make it to a doctors appointment, but we will be returning soon to pick up where we left off!”
Marc Newland,you and your beautiful daughter are just awesome!! Thanks for looking out for the beauty of our wonderful mountains!!????????????
— Betty Fox (@bett_fox) January 5, 2019
Wow….so impressed with our fellow East TN’ers! Way to go! That is showing the East TN spirit! 🙂
— Deborah Mitchell (@Beachbaby33) January 4, 2019
But it wasn’t just other Tennesseans. People from all over the place praised the pair:
A huge thank you from Mississippi to Marc Newland and his daughter for their efforts and work in our great smoky mountains! It’s special people like you who put actions to their love of the park. THANK YOU!
— Wanda (@wandahardy2013) January 4, 2019
Kudos you all ????❤
— Denise (@Denise67409051) January 7, 2019
Inspiring to see regular people doing good things within their communities. #ItsUpToUs
— lisa savage (@frequentbuyer1) January 6, 2019
Good for them!
— James Hilt (@jim_hilt) January 6, 2019
A true American family. Salute. The young lady may become the 3rd woman to become US president. pic.twitter.com/Vu8hdFNjNM
— ???????????????? Pedro Lupe ???????????????? (@PedroLupe1) January 7, 2019
More people should follow them
— murage (@murage1) January 6, 2019
Way to go guys!
— Tammy (@tarborott) January 6, 2019
Many are calling Marc a great role model and a good example to young Erica.
In his post on Facebook, Marc also said:
“These mountains give so much to so many people. Imagine if only a fraction of those people decided to give back to the mountains…”
Erica is now challenging others to spend a day dedicated to cleaning up their beloved local national park:
“It was a fun and very rewarding day for both of us and Erica says that she would like to challenge other hikers to take one day off from getting in miles and impressive vista pics and instead, give back by grabbing a trash bag, heading to the park and collecting some litter!”
AWESOME. THANK GOD FOR being ROLE MODELS. What a great gesture.
— Dlynn (@Dorothydellarc) January 6, 2019
Bravo to them! You are setting a wonderful example for your daughter, sir.
— Scott David Weaver (@voxSDW) January 6, 2019
Good for you and your daughter thank you for taking action. Great lesson for your child. ☺️
— Robin (@mamalowy) January 6, 2019
Thank you Dad for being such an inspiration for your daughter
— Brenda (@BrendaC19601138) January 6, 2019
It’s good for him to teach his daughter about the value of caring for their environment
— Lydia Kravitz (@LadyBleach) January 6, 2019
Others are saying that as sweet as it is, citizens shouldn’t have to spend time doing what the government should be taking care of. But as we enter another week of the government shutdown, government functions such as the Internal Revenue Service, various sectors within the criminal justice system, museums and national parks, and the Transportation Security Administration are continuing to feel the effects.
So, as it stands right now, everyone might want to grab a trash bag or two.
Be nice if people in government shares these types of values….
— Nathan McVey (@NathanMcvey) January 6, 2019
Yes but that's not their job.. that's your job!
— Edward Anderson (@WelshBiker) January 6, 2019
…………..Can they clean up the White House too?? pic.twitter.com/T5f1gzSpQA
— Angie from NOLA (@angenola) January 6, 2019
And if we can’t clean up the government, then everyone can at least clean up after themselves. Right?
That is truly awesome and inspiring, but it wouldn’t be necessary if folks would just have respect for nature and clean up after themselves.
— Thomas (@Paradigm8472) January 6, 2019
Thank you litter patrol!
Does beg the question…
What is wrong with people who can't clean up after themselves?
— SparkleMom (@SparkleMom4) January 6, 2019
Its wonderful that they (and others around the country) are doing this. But its heartbreaking that people are trashing these beautiful parks just because somebody isn't watching over them.
— Daniel P (@retirewhendead) January 6, 2019
Regardless, this eco-conscious daddy-daughter duo is being thanked for taking initiative, and taking out the trash.
No doubt, Mother Nature is proud and appreciative of these two.
Thank you for stepping up
— Marsha (@WiTXAZ) January 6, 2019
These two good humans!
— Steven Louis Ray (@groovealicious) January 6, 2019
These people are my heroes.
— jim cowder (@jtcowder) January 6, 2019
That's what I'm talking about. Those are RESPONSIBLE and TRUE to what #CITIZENSHIP truly means.
— Den Again (@DenActive) January 6, 2019
Marc said that the hike was a “fun and very rewarding day for both of us.”
Good job, guys! We can all learn a thing or two from them.