KAMLOOPS - Progress for a 170 people this weekend looked like over 5,000 lbs. of garbage.
Backroads in the Dewdrop area by the Lac Du Bois grasslands are a tidier after members of the Kamloops Naturalist Club, B.C. Four Wheelers Association, Kamloops 4x4 Club, local hiking groups and the general public came together to collect a variety of garbage dumped in the wild.
Frank Ritcey, with the Naturalist Club, says the 5,000 lbs. have been counted, but that amount will rise as more of what was collected is accounted for.
“There was some new garbage, especially near the places right on the major roads,” he says. “That’s always disheartening.”
Last year, the first year an event like this was organized, the group cleaned out 20,000 lbs. This year was lower, but was still literally tons of waste. The area has been dumped in for decades, and is only now being cleaned up with significant community effort. Thanks to last years efforts, the 175-strong group was able to push deeper and pull garbage from more remote areas.
While some of it is typical household garbage, there were plenty of larger items people have dumped in nature instead of a garbage dump. This year saw couches and mattresses pulled out, along with left over material from renovations, like concrete and windows. Another source of junk in the woods are fires, as people bring out pallets to burn, leaving behind burnt, rusted nails.
“For the most part they’re illegal fires, too,” Ritcey says. “By the time you’ve got a pallet going it’s too big.”
The disregard for the natural environment is an ongoing issue, and it's not just dumping. Ritcey says people driving in areas they aren’t supposed to can cause long term damage and points out tracks in the grasslands area can be up to 40 years old.
“The people driving off road in the restricted areas are causing erosion and destroying topsoil. It gives invasive species a foothold that chokes out the natives plants,” he says. “The wildlife that requires those native species are affected.”
Local human impact on the environment is an issue people might not understand, he says.
“It just shows the real ignorance of the environment, not just disrespect, it shows a complete ignorance of the role nature plays in our lives,” he says. “If a person did understand that, I can’t think of a reason that would have them dumping out there.”
He’s hoping the cleanup and similar actions will help raise awareness of the harm that can be caused and advises people who do see illegal dumping to call the province’s Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1-877-952-7277.
“As soon as the bulk of the population knows what is and know it isn’t acceptable, we’ll see this behaviour stop,” he says. “Hopefully there’s enough public attention on it.”
Other organizations were involved in the weekend's cleanup, including the Aberdeen Shoppers Drug Mart, Costco, Conservation Services, City of Kamloops and Thompson Nicola Regional District.
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