Archived Outdoors

Park, Gatlinburg Police crack down on litter

A park ranger speaks with the driver of a truck hauling unsecured garbage. NPS photo A park ranger speaks with the driver of a truck hauling unsecured garbage. NPS photo

A targeted law enforcement effort aiming to combat litter resulted in 37 stops including 25 verbal warnings and 13 citations on the northbound Spur of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park March 28-29.

Officers with the National Park Service and the Gatlinburg Police Department collaborated on the effort, which aimed to enforce a provision of Tennessee state law that states any motor vehicle transporting litter or any material likely to be blown away must contain the material in an enclosed space or fully cover it with a tarp. 

More than 10 million motorists travel the 5-mile Spur between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge each year, many of them hauling garbage from rental units or private residences to trash collection centers. Garbage bags and construction waste blown out of vehicles often scatters along the roadways after being hit by vehicles. The road sees the most litter accumulation of any in the park.   

“With increasing visitation trends and more use of park roads for business and recreation, we need everyone to do their part to keep our roads litter-free,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “To protect our scenic values and wildlife, it is vital that we prevent trash from ever being discarded in a National Park.” 

Additional targeted enforcement dates are scheduled for the remainder of the year. 

The Spur, a 5-mile section of roadway between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, is traveled by over 10 million motorists annually and accumulates the largest amount of litter among the Park’s 384 miles of roads. 

Additional targeted enforcement dates are also scheduled throughout the remainder of 2021. To pitch in with litter pickup events organized by Keep Sevier Beautiful, visit

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