For over two decades, it's been the second-most visited National Park Service unit in the country, but today the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the San Francisco bay area is in the news for something else: trash. Specifically, trash left in large amounts by the public for someone else to deal with.
Parks spokesperson Alexandra Picavet calls these offenders "Trash Mobs." "Hundreds of people coming to places like Fort Mason Great Meadow with bags and bags of food and alcohol -- lots of alcohol, BBQ's, toys and sometimes furniture, and just leaving it there when they are done," she said in an e-mail today. "What is the National Park Service to do about this kind of abuse? How is this acceptable behavior?"
And this isn't the first time. It happened earlier this year, oddly enough, on Earth Day.
Crowds in mass appeared at the meadow in the early afternoon. Picavet said the "unusual wave" of people appeared to be loosely organized, but what exactly happened is under investigation. She said it took 55 employees, from the highest paid to interns, to clean up the leftovers, which included raw meat, unopened packages of food, three barbecues (one that looked brand new), a couch, and a ad hoc bar made out of plywood.
Picavet said that law enforcement was patrolling the area and had made several contacts with people in the meadow, but it didn't stop the unexpected. She said there are no firm plans in place yet for future management of the meadow area, but discussions -- conceptual at this point -- include banning alcohol and changing hours. At the end of the day, it will come down to, as she asked, "How do you combat behavior that is egregious as this?"