Kelowna forest clean up group removed 200K pounds of trash this year, launches new pollution reporting app | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Kelowna forest clean up group removed 200K pounds of trash this year, launches new pollution reporting app

David Ouwendyk pointing out areas that need to be cleaned up on a map at the Beaver Lake Road forest clean up on June, 22, 2024.

The Okanagan Forest Task Force made several announcements at a clean up event in Lake Country today, including numbers for clean ups this year and a new app to crowd source information on backcountry pollution.

The task force is a group of volunteers tackling the illegal dumping problem in the Okanagan’s backcountry.

Kane Blake, a founding member of the task force, said the group pulled 129,000 lb. of trash from a site near Okanagan Falls and has cleaned up roughly 200,000 lb. of garbage total in 2024.

“Our license plates say ‘Beautiful British Columbia,’ but we can go into many of the places we call beautiful, and once you're actually there, it's not so beautiful. You have to go through a sea of garbage to get to those beautiful places,” Blake said. “So, that's why this group was started, and it's still chugging along. It's because of all of our volunteers, our sponsors, and people who helped get us to where we are today.”

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The new Okanagan Forest Task Force app is now available for iOS and Android users. The app allows people to take pictures of trash in the backcountry and report areas where the task force could organize a clean-up effort.

The task force is now going to be able to livestream clean ups through Starlink. Blake said the livestreams will help keep the community up to date and keep volunteers safe in case of emergency in areas without cell reception.

David Ouwendyk has been volunteering and cleaning up local forests with the task force since its early days in 2016. He said he wants the group's efforts to help educate people and break their habit of polluting the backcountry.

READ MORE: RDOS waives landfill fees for community clean-ups

“I’m hoping it creates a bit more awareness amongst the general public that we have a problem in our backcountry. We have to educate people on the fact that it's wrong. So many people have done this their whole life and it’s not changing because it’s the way they’re always done it,” he said.

Ouwendyk was one of the dozens of volunteers at the clean up along Beaver Lake Road in Lake Country today. He was there yesterday to clean up some trash and scout the most problematic areas with the help of maps and images provided by the regional district.

Click here to find out more about the task force, and download their app.


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