Reader Participation Day: What Do You Do When You See A Visitor Doing Something Inappropriate In A National Park?
What do you do when you see a visitor doing something inappropriate or illegal in a national park?
This is not a theoretical question, as I struggle with this a lot. I feel that it's different from breaking the rules on the street. National parks, from the largest, most iconic to the smallest historic site, are special places where the rules are there to protect the resources.
Do you ignore the problem, thinking that maybe rangers will deal with it?
Do you mention it to the visitor?
Do you try to find a ranger?
Does it depend on the problem? Everyone knows not to litter or to carve their initials on an historic cabin. But many visitors claim not to know that dogs are not allowed on trails in many national parks or that they shouldn't pick flowers.
Does your reaction depend on the park you're in? I'm particularly vocal in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway where I think I know the rules well. I'm quieter when I'm away from my home turf.
Does it depend on other circumstances?
How do you handle the problem?