The Ausable River Association (AsRA) has launched an expanded porta-john program throughout the Ausable River watershed to address the persistent problem of human waste disposal. Each year, over a million people visit the Ausable River watershed according to AsRA; seventy-six percent of these visitors participate in outdoor recreational activities. These large numbers pose a challenge in terms of the proper disposal of human waste. In short, the watershed has a poop problem.
The High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program has reported a 64% increase in visitation to the high summits of the Adirondacks over the past six years. This increase has coincided with a shift towards a larger percentage of day hikers versus overnight users. In many cases these visitors are not prepared to, or informed how to, properly dispose of their waste. As a result, summit stewards, forest rangers, and other backcountry professionals have reported an increased incidence of feces and toiletry products being improperly deposited on, or directly adjacent to trails.
Properly disposing of your excrement minimizes pollution of water resources, aids decomposition, eliminates insect and animal contact, and minimizes social impacts.
For six years, AsRA has organized the placement of porta-johns along the Ausable River to provide cyclists, anglers, and visitors a place to go to the bathroom. This program addresses the poop problem directly adjacent to the main branches of the river. This year the program has been expanded in hopes of dealing with human waste disposal issues upland on Ausable watershed trail systems.
Porta-johns are available along the West and East Branches of the Ausable River and this year at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead, Chapel Pond, the Giant Ridge Trail trailhead, and the Roaring Brook trailhead.
This program is a partnership between AsRA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement. Local businesses and organizations sponsor porta-johns as a community service and in support of AsRA’s programs. Barkeater Trails Alliance, The Brew Castle, The Fallen Arch, Hungry Trout Fly Fishing, IRONMAN Foundation, Mountain Tomboy, SubAlpine Coffee, Town of Wilmington, and Tri-Lakes Chapter of Trout Unlimited have all stepped up to help fund this program.