Hold Tourism Accountable for Cleanup
Hold Tourism Accountable for Cleanup
Attn: Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board and Executive Director
We, the residents of Mammoth Lakes and surrounding communities who have signed this petition, want to start the conversation with your organization about the way that you allocate your funds. Tourism is how Mammoth Lakes thrives, and we know that our businesses depend on you to advertise and bring visitors to the area. Tourism is what allows us to live and work in this beautiful place.
We are writing to you now because we believe that with tourism comes accountability. You invite millions of people a year to our home, and we as a community would like you to take responsibility for those that you bring here. You occasionally share social media posts about leave no trace principles but what are you, as an organization, really doing to help keep our backyard clean?
These are unprecedented times right now, with a global pandemic and shelter in place orders that make people feel cooped up and, understandably, want to come visit the place that you advertise. They want to socially distance with a mountain view. However, our resources are strained. Businesses and hotels have restrictions and campgrounds are getting full and no reservation is guaranteed right now so more and more people are opting outside to dispersed campsites and our easily accessible outdoor attractions. Those people, that you invited to our backyard during a pandemic, are bringing a major problem with them – their garbage.
When this conversation comes up, we so often hear the different organizations say something along the lines of “not my jurisdiction” – but we are not going to accept that from you anymore. We all know that Forest Service has been underfunded for years and is under even more strain and restrictions this year in the pandemic. It is unrealistic to assume that you can invite millions of people to our home with your advertising and expect Forest Service or the town to take on the exorbitant expenses of cleaning up after those people.
In your last published expenditure report, you spent $1,520,497.95 on marketing, sales, and public relations between July 2018 and June 2019. We as a community would like to reallocate some of your marketing, sales, and public relations budgets into one that would create jobs for local residents and to prevent garbage pileup in our heavily recreated areas. The following are our demands:
- · Create two jobs for litter clean up. You would employ two local residents for eight months out of the year who would be responsible for walking our popular tourist destinations including, but not limited to, The Lakes Basin, Convict Lake, and any area that you recommend on your site to see seasonal attractions such as the leaves changing, sledding, etc. These two employees would be paid a wage of $18 an hour to pick up litter left in these areas. Your total expense for these two seasonal jobs would be $46,080, a mere 3% of your advertising budgets and it would create two safe, socially distanced jobs for our community members.
- · Purchase extra dumpsters and pay to have the trash picked up in any accessible area that you represent on your website, social media pages, or any other form of advertising. The expenses for this would depend on the season and how much traffic the area was experiencing, but we expect you to take accountability for the areas that you promote to tourists.
- · If you advertise any area that does not have restrooms available, you will pay to place portable bathrooms and have them serviced at appropriate intervals for the duration of the season. For instance, if you advertise a certain place for fall colors that doesn’t have restrooms, you will place portable restrooms there and have them serviced for the duration of the leaf changing season.
- · Take accountability for any existing restrooms in the areas that you advertise. Create jobs or enlist volunteers from within your organization to clean existing restrooms to assist the Forest Service.
We understand that there are partnerships at play between yourselves and other non-profits and organizations such as Forest Service, and we also understand that there are other tourism boards in the Eastern Sierra. You as an organization have proven yourself effective in negotiating those partnerships as well as bringing prodigious amounts of tourists to our area through your advertising. We believe in you and think that you can institute these policies successfully and will trailblaze a path that Mono County Tourism can follow, as well as other organizations in communities like ours around the country. We are asking that you institute these policies effectively and without delay, so that we can begin to clean up our community and inspire others to do the same. We ask this because we truly care about our community and the public lands surrounding it, and we know you do too.
The Mammoth Lakes and Surrounding Communities