STOW — Some people enjoying the Cuyahoga Valley National Park during the partial government shutdown have forgotten to “leave no trace,” but a junior ranger is on patrol removing their litter.
Four-year-old Stow resident Charlie Comi, who visits the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with his family on a regular basis, became a junior ranger in September.
“He completed the packet and took an oath to love and take care of the park,” said his mother, Virginia Comi. “He loves his job as a junior ranger and the other rangers would often salute him.”
While Charlie was watching the news with his parents and three older siblings, he heard about the government shutdown that began Dec. 22. Although the park remains open, rangers are on unpaid furlough, restrooms are locked and trash is not collected.
“We explained that the parks were being closed, and the rangers couldn’t come and clean it,” Virginia said. “He was worried about the trash and his park would close or the animals would get sick or something.”
Virginia said they reminded him he was a junior ranger and promised to take care of the park.
“He put on his vest and went to work,” she said.
Along with Virginia, Charlie has been patrolling the trails and parking lot near the Peninsula train station to pick up trash. They gather the trash, put it in their trunk, and take it home to get rid of it.
“Some days Charlie says he would love to be a ranger and other days he wants to be a doctor,” Virginia said. “It depends on the day.”
Virginia said she is surprised by how much trash is discarded, and how many doggie waste bags are left behind on the trails by pet owners.
Those who visit the parks are urged to take their trash home and be responsible caretakers of their parks, meaning “leave no trace” of your presence behind in the outdoors, said CEO Deb Yandala of the nonprofit Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
“We’re really grateful for people who care about the park,” Yandala said. “Charlie is a great example of how people love the parks.”
Adults and children are helping the parks and learning conservation skills, she said, adding even during this shutdown, the American public really shows they care about national parks.
Yandala said she hopes people continue to enjoy the parks and the shutdown ends soon. None of the interpretive rangers are working so those programs won’t be offered.
For visitor information and restrooms, people can go to the Trail Mix gift shop, 1600 Mill St. W. in Peninsula from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. behind the Winking Lizard. Conservancy staff will be available to answer questions, she said.
During the shutdown, programs offered by the Conservancy are still operating such as the concert series, programs at Happy Days Lodge and Hines Hill Conference Center, Yandala said. Reserved space for groups at Stanford House and the Environmental Education Center will continue. Go to www.conservancyforcvnp.org for more information.
In addition, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is not affected by the government shutdown but check at www.cvsr.com for any changes or details.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or email@example.com.