While dogs are welcome in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, their waste is not. The national park — which includes areas in Buckhead and Sandy Springs — has added waste bins and an educational campaign to get humans to clean up after their river-enjoying pets.
Visitors who walk their dogs along the park’s trails have more places to “Bag and Bin It” with the installation of 37 new dog waste bins.
The Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy and the National Park Service funded the 20 replacement dog waste bins and the additional 17 bins. All 15 park units now have bins and each bin has free waste bags.
With more people spending time outdoors during the pandemic the volume and distribution of dog waste and bags left on the ground has risen, officials say.
“The installation of 37 new dog waste bins will address the issue of dog waste and bags being left in the park by providing better access to proper disposal,” said Phillip Hodges, CNPC board president, in a press release. “What we need now is for dog owners to do their part.”
Despite the previously existing dog waste bins, many visitors leave dog waste on the trails or other public areas. Some dog owners bag the waste, but just drop it along the trails instead of taking it to bins.
A multi-year study by the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that dogs are a primary contributor of fecal contamination in the Chattahoochee River within the park.
The Chattahoochee River provides 70% of the drinking water for metro Atlanta, park official say. High bacteria levels in the river can affect recreation such as kayaking, fishing and swimming, where people come in contact with the water, officials say.
The CNPC asked the Buckhead-based Miami Ad School to help. A survey by student creative teams revealed that many park visitors mistakenly believed dog waste was a good fertilizer, unaware that the fecal material contaminates the watershed and damages plants. They determined public education and more dog waste bins were needed.
The winning campaign uses colorful illustrations reminiscent of retro-styled NPS park posters. It features the tag line “Lead the Pack — Bag and Bin It.”
For information about the program or CNPC, the Chattahoochee River NRA’s official friends group, visit chatthoocheeparks.org or email email@example.com.