CARBON COUNTY, Pa. — People flocked to Belztville State Park in Carbon County for the holiday weekend, and park officials say big crowds always mean a big mess.
The Fourth of July had Beltzville State Park packed with people and their dumpsters full of garbage.
As always, rangers equipped the park with two additional 30-foot dumpsters for the holiday weekend.
Still, the dumpsters were overflowing.
"This year, we did try something a little bit different. We kept the gates closed so that we could actually get at the trash rather than having people pour in and not being able to collect the trash around them," said Park Ranger Alma Holmes.
Holmes says around a busy holiday, staff members always come in early along with volunteers to clean before people arrive.
This year they kept the gates closed longer than normal.
They didn't allow cars in the parking lot until nearly 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, giving them a couple of extra hours without visitors.
"To get the cleaning done, to the bags of trash out of here so that people could actually enjoy themselves once they got in here," Holmes said.
Patt Hipp, a Friends of Beltzville volunteer, says she was able to fill six buckets of trash much faster than normal because the gates were closed and describes feeling proud of how clean the park was ahead of the opening on Monday morning.
"Obviously, I would love it if people would clean up after themselves. I mean, that's a given, but it is what it is, so to speak, so I'm glad that I'm able to help," Hipp said.
The Friends of Beltzville volunteer group works to maintain the nearly 3,000-acre space year-round.
Several members were helping maintain the park's cleanliness even after opening Monday.
"The best part for me I think is when little kids come up and they look at the little grabbers that we've got, and they're like, you know, 'what are you doing?' and we tell them this is a gift for everybody including the animals. This is their home, so we need to be caretakers," said volunteer Lori Melbard.
Park rangers said the litter problem was about the same as other years but also noted that the park was only allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, so fewer visitors were responsible for the mess.