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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Apr. 1, 2020 2 years ago

Residents tackle West Orange Trail trash

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The 22-mile trail continues to see issues with littering.
by: Bianca Morales Intern

The 22-mile West Orange Trail offers residents an opportunity to commune with nature, but that doesn’t keep visitors from tossing their trash on the ground instead of throwing them in the trash cans along the path.

That’s exactly what Winter Garden resident Audrey Carter and Windermere resident Danielle Zepess have noticed firsthand. The two met at Lucky’s Lake Swim and decided to walk the West Orange Trail one day. Carter had been frequenting the trail since it opened.

They started walking at Killarney Station and brought a plastic shopping bag from Publix to pick up trash along the way.

“We had already filled and emptied the shopping bag once before we found the big one,” Zepess said.

“Audrey had climbed over some shrubs to grab this huge garbage bag,” she said. “Her white sleeve was bloodied because she had scraped her arm. She’s a woman on a mission.”

“It’s frustrating,” Carter said. “You’d think people who use it would love nature. We couldn’t believe it.”

While there are trash cans along the trail, they are far apart, Carter said.

“I wish there were more garbage cans along the trail,” she said. “The littering increases with the increase of visitors. I’d like to see more organizations and groups keep the trail clean.”

Zepess said that the county should not have to worry about picking up a “stray gum wrapper” — it’s up to residents to keep the trail clean.

“My mother used to say, ‘If you try and keep your room neat from the beginning, there’s less work to do later,’” Zepess said.

Not only is the littering unpleasant, Carter said, it’s harmful to the animals that frequent the area like birds and people’s pets.

“If there’s any residue, animals could be harmed,” Carter said. “It’s possible.”

Zepess and Carter said they mostly found water bottles, Gatorade bottles and wrappers for athletic accessories. 

“I know these are things used by runners because my husband runs, so does my cousin,” Zepess said. “I have little sympathy for people who dump their trash on the floor. There’s no excuse, unless a serial killer jumps at you and cuts your hands off, and you had to rush to the hospital. I’d let it slide.”

Amanda Kimmer, public relations information officer for Orange County Parks and Recreation, said county staff does a great job at maintaining the trail, receiving praise from residents frequently use it. However, it’s difficult to keep the entire 22-mile trail clean.

“It can be a lot of territory for staff to cover,” Kimmer said. “We’re very responsive when people tell us things. It’s absolutely important we keep it clean — not only for beautification, but for sanitation.”

Kimmer said if people need to report something going on along the trail, they can call 311 or (407) 836-3111. Residents can choose to remain anonymous if they wish.

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