Giant City State Park is a popular location for camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and rappelling. However, due to its popularity, there is also a buildup of micro-trash, which could be anything from cigarette butts, gum, candy, and food wrappers, bottle caps, etc. that are not biodegradable. Cigarette butts take over 10 years to disintegrate and leach hundreds of toxic chemicals into the environment which can be lethal to aquatic life.

Illinois Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists worked with their local Extension Program coordinator and Illinois Department of Natural Resources to collect micro-trash at Giant City State Park in Makanda last Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Participating were Patricia Powell, Beckie Wisdom, Katie Carl, Bill Clifton, Linda Helstern, Teresa Madel, Joel Murray, Kimberly Rohling, and Jennifer Randolph-Bollinger.

Together, the volunteers swept the park’s various shelters, playgrounds, roadsides, and trails, covering about 700 acres of the park. In two hours, they removed 8 pounds of micro-trash, most of which were cigarette butts, plastic twist-ties, candy wrappers, discarded straws, water bottle plastic caps, and metallic streamers.

State Park guests are encouraged to ensure that they don’t litter or abandon their trash to help maintain the cleanliness and safety in Giant City State Park. The use of cigarettes may also affect the state park as it is a fire hazard and may result in a forest fire. Guests are asked to be more responsible when visiting the Giant City State Park and other parks in the U.S.

The Trash Blast was supported by a partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the University of Illinois Extension.

For more information on becoming a Master Gardener or Master Naturalist, contact Rohling at



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