Park rangers are gearing up for a flood of as many as 4,000 people into the three Harvey County Parks during Memorial Day weekend.


Park rangers are gearing up for a flood of as many as 4,000 people into the three Harvey County Parks during Memorial Day weekend.
Attendance at East Park has doubled in the first five months of 2010 compared to the first five months of 2009, said Kass Miller, ranger for East Park and Camp Hawk.
As the parks fill up for the kickoff of the summer outdoor season, park officials are on a campaign to educate the public about the rules at the county’s parks.
One of the most pervasive problems the rangers deal with is trash.
“Trash, trash, trash ...,” Miller said. “We have a big problem with trash. We ask people to please pick it up.”
Lloyd Stoddard, West Park ranger, said the county used to provide 55-gallon drums for trash at the parks, but people were throwing the drums in the lake.
Visitors to the park are required to take all trash with them or deposit it in one of the park’s trash receptacles.
The park rangers can ticket for infractions of a variety of laws , including littering, which is punishable with up to a $500 fine, one year in jail and  1,000 hours of community service.
The second biggest concern for the rangers are visitors who abuse alcohol.
“For me it’s worst when people have had too much to drink, and it turns into a domestic (violation case) when they attack their spouse or someone else,” Stoddard said. “It is OK to drink but not at the expense of your spouse or someone else. We also have problems with people disturbing their neighbors and speeding through the park.”
Stoddard said the rangers will call the sheriff’s deputies if situations get out of control.
It is against the law and dangerous to drink and boat.
Drunken boaters can be charged with DUI.
Stoddard also advised against drinking alcohol and swimming. Glass bottles are not allowed in the swimming areas.
Rangers also deal with issues involving gaming violations, disorderly conduct and noise ordinance violations.
Fireworks and weapons also are prohibited in the parks.
A complete list of park rules are posted at the bait shops or are available from park officials on request.
“Our stance is that we would rather educate people as to our laws, but sometimes that means writing a citation,” Stoddard said.
Rangers said they also have had some problems with people misusing 4-wheelers. Four-wheelers are restricted to maintained roads within the parks and must be operated by drivers 16 and older.
“We ask people to use them for general transportation,” Stoddard said. “We ask you to obey the speed limit. As long as they are not too loud, they’re OK.”
Park officials at East Park ask 4-wheeler owners to register their vehicles at the bait shop.
 Both parks allow horses and have horse trails. Trail maps are available. West Park has a day hitching area, and an overnight camping area for horse owners.
Sheriff T. Walton said the county has had problems with underage drinking parties at the lakes, as well.
Minors younger than 16 are not to be left unattended. Also the parks are closed between sunset and sunrise to all but campers and fisherman.
“When people come to the parks, we want them to be respectful,” Stoddard said. “The parks are family oriented. We have worked hard to make them that way, and we want to keep them that way.
“We want everyone to come out and have a reasonably good time.”