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Hiker captures photos of graffiti and hypodermic needles in GSMNP

Hiker and Photographer Benny Braden found hypodermic needles, trash, and graffiti along the Lakeshore trail near Bryson City.
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 8:42 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 8:59 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Hiker and photographer Benny Braden hoped to share the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on his Instagram page, but he’s not shying away from some less picturesque parts.

In a recent post, he shared the Lakeshore trail, accessible from Bryson City.

“It’s a local hangout for kids, you know, they go and they spray paint on the tunnel, even though it’s a confined area,” said Braden.

Braden found hypodermic needles, trash, and graffiti along the trail.

“I picked those needles up myself and put them in that bottle. Now I was an EMT for quite a few years, I guess you can say I’m trained to handle hypodermic needles like that. if that’s your first experience of coming to the Smokies probably not going to come back,” said Braden.

Braden said possible solutions could be more rangers, closing at night, or surveillance cameras to monitor who is doing this. He said if there isn’t anything done, the natural beauty in the park is at risk.

“We should be taking care of our public lands. You know, at the end of the day, if we change the way we view public lands or change the way we use public lands, and the goal is to be stewards of what we’ve been given to take care of,” said Braden.

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