Tourists Are Reportedly Littering Million-Year-Old Caves With Discarded Facemasks

(ShutterstockRobert Jan Cornelisse)

John Ruane Contributor
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There is a growing problem at National Parks across the United States as some visitors are littering the land and ancient caves with single-use face masks.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico has reached out to the public via Facebook requesting more environmentally-friendly use of the park by refraining from dumping the COVID-19 protective masks.

“As you visit, we ask for your help in the protection of our parks to reduce this new waste product,” the National Park Service posted on Facebook. “We appreciate you wearing a mask and social distancing to protect one another, but please be sure to leave with all that you bring. Take full ownership in all that you bring to these places as much as what they bring to you. If it helps remember this saying, ‘take only photos, leave only well placed footprints.’”

The post went on to express concern for the changes in the caves caused by visitors, who have damaged the formations by touching the cave walls and speleothems.

Face masks are flying into geysers at Yellowstone/Shutterstock

And caves are not the only place masks are being found. In July, Yellowstone National Park said masks were flying off tourists faces and into iconic geysers. (RELATED: America’s Iconic National Parks Need Billions In Repairs: ‘Roads Are Crumbling, Bridges Aren’t In Great Shape’)