Photo via: Fox 8 Cleveland
When Peninsula, Ohio four-year-old Charlie Comi was 'sworn in' as a Junior Ranger at Cuyahoga Valley National Park last fall, he took his oath to "promise to love and take care of the park" to heart. That's why he has made it his personal mission to do his part to clean up his favorite park after seeing on television that they were experiencing an increased amount of trash left behind with little staff help available to maintain the cleanliness of the park.
As the country continues to deal with various challenges related to the current government shutdown, one entity hit the hardest is the regular upkeep and maintenance at National parks across the country. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is no exception and has begun to experience an influx of litter left behind by park goers. The shutdown has left most park employees furloughed so while the park technically remains open with a "skeleton crew," the restrooms have had to be closed, the parking lots are no longer being plowed, and trash is no longer being routinely collected.
The Comi family frequently visit the park, which also led Charlie to participate in their Junior Park Ranger program last September. Wearing a vest with his Junior Park Ranger badge proudly displayed and carrying a brown paper bag, Charlie and his mother have begun to patrol the park picking up various items that people have carelessly left behind.
"A lot of fast food wrappers, that seems to be a very popular thing to leave behind. A lot of cigarette butts, that’s something we find. We do find a lot of animal waste bags, those get left behind a lot," shared Charlie's mother Virginia in an interview with Cleveland’s Fox 8 News.
Virginia went on to share, "Charlie is really concerned that if it begins to pile up it could hurt the animals. That’s a big, big concern for him – that they will try to eat the trash." Deb Yandala, CEO of a conservancy nonprofit for Cuyahoga Valley National Park has praised Charlie for his efforts alongside some other park visitors that have come forward to help maintain the integrity of the park since the photos of various messes were released to the media.
When Charlie encounters one of the actual park rangers while patrolling the park, Charlie will wave and the rangers return his gesture with a salute to the pint-sized park advocate.
We salute you too Charlie, and admire your heartfelt efforts to protect and better your community. Keep up the great work!