Forestry officials want Big Cottonwood Canyon visitors to stop pooping near streams

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More feces found in water during late summer months, study finds

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC4 News) – Rangers and water treatment officials are trying to flush out a poopy problem in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

As the population of the surrounding area increases, E. Coli levels have reached more than the maximum limit in Salt Lake County water, due to visitors defecating near water sources. If you’re caught with your pants down in Big Cottonwood canyon doing number two anywhere other than approved restrooms, you could be faced with a big fine, officials told ABC4.

“Having a poo outside of a bathroom structure is gonna have an impact,” said Ranger Marshall Alford with the Salt Lake Ranger District of the U.S. Forestry Service. “It increases the frequency of communicable diseases and it’s also something that changes the ability to treat that water reliably.”

ABC4 News reached out to treatment officials, who were unavailable for comment Monday. Still, concerned citizens like Evan Johnson are afraid there is a “fecal time bomb” effect occurring in the canyon.

“Big Cottonwood Creek is one of our jewel creeks in our county…and it has poop in it,” said Johnson, who started the group Save Our Big Cottonwood Creek. “This creek is not a toilet.”

Johnson and others said they would like to see more investment in bathroom structures up the canyon, complaining there aren’t enough toilets. Alford said the U.S. Forestry Service is working on getting the “appropriate” amount of toilets.

Alford said if it’s an emergency, visitors should get far away from watershed streams, dig a hole that is at least six inches deep and go to the bathroom there. When possible, visitors should pack out used toilet paper and not leave it behind.


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