Snow bunnies leave trash in their tracks

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By LENORE RUTHERFORD

It's a common saying: "Your mother doesn't work here, so pick up after yourself."

Someone forgot to tell the people who spend snowy weekends at Little Sweden, as evidenced by the dirty diapers, beer bottles and broken snow-play equipment that litter Highway 108 at the popular snow-play area after every busy winter weekend.

Because Mom doesn't work there, U.S. Forest Service employees from the Me-Wok Ranger District in Mi-Wuk Village and Pinecrest's Summit Ranger District get clean-up duty.

"I picked up 10 to 15 big garbage sacks on my own last week, and we have more than that again today," U.S. Forest Service Recreational Specialist Chuck James said on his latest trash stint there.

He continued to gather trash while waiting for reinforcements, in the form of crews from the Tuolumne County Probation Department people working off jail sentences by doing community service projects.

When the snow is deep and the weather is good, thousands of people flock to Little Sweden to play rather than travel a little further up the hill to winter sports areas that charge entrance fees.

They park in no-parking zones, have tailgate parties and sometimes make the four-lane stretch of highway resemble a parking lot.

In addition to creating a safety hazard on the busy highway, they leave a big mess.

The two ranger districts have taken responsibility for cleaning up at least on public land.

Twenty-five percent of the hill is owned by the U.S. Forest Service and legally available for snow play.

Although Little Sweden used to be an official snow-play area the owners charged admission most of the area is now just private property with no-trespassing signs around it.

No-parking signs line both sides of the highway in front of the private land, and California Highway Patrol officers regularly cite violators, but that doesn't seem to reduce the number of vehicles parked there every wintry weekend.

11704628
The Union Democrat
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