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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

More People In Kane County Means More Poop, Officials Hoping To Better Educate Public

A vertical view of classic simple design handmade wooden sign that says 'toilets' with an arrow pointing left.
Tourists are flocking to southern Utah, and in Kane County, officials are working to educate the public on how to relieve themselves responsibly.

Kane County saw an influx of tourists last year because of the pandemic. That brought its own challenges with crowding, graffiti and poop.

There are stretches of rural wilderness in the county and with that comes vast areas without bathrooms. Camille Johnson Taylor, executive director of the county’s tourism office, said there’s been a problem with people not being aware of proper bathroom etiquette.

“Between Kanab and Page [Arizona] there's really not like a rest stop or anywhere to stop and use the restroom,” Johnson Taylor said. “You're heading across that stretch of highway, people will pull over at typical pullout spots and use the restroom. So you're like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is like a feces field.’”

This isn’t an issue only in Kane County — the Utah Department of Environmental Quality released guidance last year for people recreating throughout the state. They are encouraged to “leave no trace” and that includes poop.

Even when there are restroom facilities, they’ve needed to be pumped out and cleaned more frequently, Johnson Taylor said. She said the county is working with the Bureau of Land Management to maintain the facilities so fewer people will turn to the wilderness for a restroom.

In preparation for another busy year, county officials are working to educate travelers on how to recreate responsibly.

“Nature calls and it's natural, we need to go,” Johnson Taylor said. “We just want them to dig a hole or use a bag or things like that. Even honestly, putting a rock over it or something to just be a little bit mindful of the next person.”

She said the county is grateful for all the new visitors, and they want to maintain a high quality of life for tourists and local residents.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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