Opinion: Please Don’t Create ‘Art’ on Nature Trails 

by | Feb 2, 2022

By Paulette Miller

You’re probably already doing this, but if not, when you visit Goddard Park, please minimize impact on the trails and beaches by following the “leave no trace” National Parks Service philosophy. Sometimes it may feel like fun and social connection to make “art” on the trail or the beaches and leave it for viewing by others; however, equal consideration might be given to trail preservation, while enjoying recreation. We want our park to remain a park – nature’s own art gallery. 

Plastic eyes nailed into a log.

Unfortunately, someone took the time and effort to bring decorated, plastic measuring cups to the park and nail them into a log. Others used nails to hammer stuff to living trees, and some people are leaving little piles of plastic and other memorabilia. I can see where people think it’s funny and cute, but when I really think about the activity, and where it can lead, I am a tad concerned. Painted and stacked rocks, initials and faces on trees, hanging holiday ornaments, and building shrines may seem innocent enough (not to mention the brightly colored plastic dog poop bags left for the park crew), but how much do we want to encourage this? Even Megan Murphy, founder of the Kindness Rocks Project said, “I did not realize that leaving a painted rock on a mountain was in violation of LNT-Leave No Trace practices and that my inspirational rock was viewed as harmful. I was devastated when I learned about this and decided that I would educate others about Leave No Trace so that they would not make the same mistake that I had made.” 

Everyone isn’t an artist. Unauthorized personal “artistic” expression in public venues just doesn’t work and isn’t fair. From graffiti artists (aerosol artists) marking on state buildings, public transportation, etc., to “locks of love” in Paris (and, now, beyond). I vote no. I vote yes for organized community arts projects – like murals – and public events that build community, but I hope people would leave the parks in the most natural state possible. At Goddard Park, we can see the impact of the walkers, hikers, bikers, horses, and the climate. It’s obvious we need to give the parks more love and attention. If we want to make the park experience more enjoyable and lovely, we might just bring a bag and pick up the trash.

So please, love our parks – pack out trash, respect wildlife, and leave plants, animals, artifacts and (non-painted) rocks in parks. Let trees be trees. It will make for a better visit. It will make for a better world.

Paulette Miller lives in East Greenwich.

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3 Comments

  1. Judy

    Good for you, Paulette. keep up the good work.

    Reply
  2. Susan Johnson

    As a frequent hiker, I couldn’t agree more. And I second the comment about the plastic poop bags – do people think the Poop Fairy will come along and pick them up? How disgusting for park crew. Either use a stick to bat it well off the trail, or bag it and take it out.

    Reply
  3. Miriam Rico

    Absolutely. I would also like to see a stop to those roadside shrines which ultimately end up littering our roads, nearby woods and streams, and choke the wildlife. Of course our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones in car accidents, but the place for that is the cemetery..

    Reply

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