Under the Open Sky: A Little Help Here, Please

By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
“A little help here, please” was a phrase my granddaughter used quite a bit while we were practicing our casting skills along the Cowlitz River at the Barrier Dam last week. Every time her line would get tangled into a mess of twisted line, she’d call out. “A little help here, please” seemed an appropriate title for today’s commentary.
I’m feeling a lot less poetical about the outdoors today and am feeling a lot more of righteous indignation.
I spent all day Saturday at Ape Headquarters in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument for a geologic tour of the Ape Cave and the surrounding area.
As we broke for lunch in the parking lot, I watched as a National Park Ranger walked around the area carrying a large trash bag, picking up the trash park visitors had left behind.
National Parks are suffering under the same budget restraints we all are. And while staff and services are being cut back, we, the public, are losing a precious and passionate resource, one by one — Rangers.
Rangers, our educated outdoor guides, are reduced to working as garbage collectors because we can’t see fit to pick up after ourselves.
If we can pack it into the park, folks, surely we can pack it out again.
The trail to the mouth of the Blue Creek from the boat launch is littered with beef jerky wrappers, fishing line and empty cans and even bottles. There is a large garbage bag hanging on a stump just five feet away from the fallen log where the anglers stop to gear up before wading in.
Just five feet away. But there was litter and line strewn all over the ground around that garbage bag.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably aren’t one of the offenders that so offend me. But you can be part of the solution to the litter problem.
Take an extra grocery bag (and even a pair of gloves, if you feel the need) with you into the park or to the lake or river shore. Pack out your own garbage and a little bit of somebody else’s.
You’ll be glad you did.

Who’s Cleaning Up Around You?
I want to put out the call for people to join in helping to beautify our outdoors. Send me an email and tell me about any outdoors beautifying projects that you know about where people can join in and help.
Can I have a little help here, please?

Local Wildlife Watcher
On a much brighter note, I talked to Chehalis resident Pat Budziszewski the other week. She has a chipmunk that has been visiting her backyard whose antics are keeping her in stitches.
She has lived in her home for more than 53 years and it’s the first chipmunk she has had visit. I wonder if this common woodland creature has decided to move uptown? It seems to me he’d have quite a bit of competition from the local squirrels.
Pat is an avid bird feeder and watcher.
“Russ (Mohney) really got me into something when he got me started feeding the birds,” she said. “We go through a lot of bird seed. Sometimes this yard is like a regular zoo. I really enjoy it.”
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer who enjoys watching and photographing the wildlife in her own backyard in Cinebar. Visit her wildlife and outdoor encounters photography blog, The (Almost) Daily Bird, at http://blogs.chronline.com/dailybird. Contact her via email at kz@tds.net or call 269-5017 to share unusual wildlife observations, or to discuss upcoming events and topics you would like to see covered in The Chronicle Outdoors section.