5 Alaska parks no longer clean outhouses, volunteers step up

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A group of 18 Alaska residents have volunteered to clean the overrun outhouses at five Delta Junction state parks.

    The parks no longer have the money to pay the state for outhouse cleaning, water and trash pickup services, the Daily News-Miner reported Monday. So instead, the 18 residents decided to temporarily solve this smelly problem. They jokingly called their volunteering "potty training."

    "We felt that whole thing was a hazardous waste issue," said Mindy Eggleston, chair of the Delta Junction Trails Association, which helped organize the volunteers. "It just seemed so wrong."

    The cleaning and water services stopped July 1. And within a few days, the lack of clean outhouses turned into complaints that human waste was fouling campgrounds. The services were pulled at the Quartz Lake State Recreation Area, the Clearwater State Recreation Site, the Donnelly Creek State Recreation Site, the Delta State Recreation Site and Fielding Lake State Recreation Area.

    Volunteers set up a schedule to clean each of the outhouses at least one per week. Some of the busier parks, such as Quartz Lake, will get their outhouses cleaned more often. Volunteers aren't pumping the waste out of the outhouse — that's a much larger job that the state will continue to do — but they will be restocking toilet paper and cleaning surfaces.

    "Our job is take water, disinfectant, rubber gloves and a scrubber brush with a long handle to scrub the toilet area," Eggleston said. "You've got to wear a mask and cover up and put a scent in there so it smells a little better afterwards. You rinse and wash the floor by sweeping the soapy water all around and, of course, picking up any trash."

    State parks officials hope to sign a contract with a private company by mid-August to again provide the services at all the parks except Fielding Lake.

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