August 30, 2016 - 5:00 PM
KELOWNA – Residents of Kelowna, including a group of concerned gun enthusiasts, are taking it upon themselves to clean up backwoods shooting ranges that have been trashed.
Furniture, appliances, bottles, cans and more piled across the one hectare section of Crown land on the side of the logging road leading up to Postill Lake Resort. Left behind by shooters who bring the items up to use as targets, they lie broken, some leaking dangerous chemicals into the ground.
‘Little Iraq’ as it’s known, is only one of the spots being targeted by gun owners who are concerned their image is being shot to pieces.
“These are the people who are going to get (outdoor shooting) outlawed,” Jesse Fleming says. “Any forest service road you go up now some idiots are shooting at a TV or something they brought with them. But they’re not taking it back and disposing of it properly, that’s the problem.”
To help tackle the problem, some members of the shooting community started the Okanagan Forest Task Force to try and coordinate a cleanup effort and ensure it doesn’t keep happening.
This has been an ongoing problem for the Regional District of the Central Okanagan for some time now, says Waste Management spokesperson Rae Stewart.
“Sadly, this is exactly what we’ve seen out there,” she says. “We’ve even had school groups wanting to do something for the environment come out for a day and clean that site up. This would make them cry.”
Stewart says she is excited to hear about the group and their planned Facebook page.
“We rely on the eyes and the ears of the community to let us know,” she says. “We’re always thrilled when someone like Jesse and his people step up. It takes a massive amount of resources and personnel to tackle something like this.”
Fleming agrees. He has taken several truckloads of garbage from various sites around Kelowna and even paid substantial dump fees himself. When Stewart heard about this she contacted iNFOnews.ca and explained that anyone who wants to organize a cleanup effort can take a few steps to ensure the dump fees are covered by the regional district.
“I wish we had known (he had paid),” she says. “That’s not right. If you’re out in the bush and willing to do a cleanup we’d love to hear from you.”
Stewart says there are many options available to cleanup groups like the Okanagan Forest Task Force.
“It depends on where it is and what kind of waste it is,” she says. “We can get a dumpster deposited and we’ll come pick it up so they’re not making a bunch of trips with their own trucks.”
She encourages anyone thinking about organizing a group cleanup contact the Waste Reduction office for options available to them.
According to Fleming, the Waste Reduction office plans to put a dumpster at the Postill Lake site sometime next month.
In the meantime, Fleming has a suggestion for those thinking about taking household items into the bush to shoot at.
“If you can bring a kitchen table and chairs out there you can bring them back out,” he says.
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