Although April 22 was officially declared Earth Day local provincial government employees with the Forest Service and Conservation Officer Service choose to honour the day by organizing their second annual illegal dump site cleanup project.
Given the snow cover on April 22 organizers chose the later date of May 12 for the cleanup project. This year 48 individuals were divided into 15 work crews and tackled 20 previously identified sites where garbage and other refuse had, over past years, accumulated. Random sites were targeted from as far away as Borel Lake, the Malaput Forest Service Road, Dog Creek and areas near Cluculz Lake.
This year Striegler and Mapes Pits were cleaned up as well which involved considerable effort on behalf of the workers and volunteers from the Forest Service Wildfire Management Branch Titan Unit Crew, Initial Attack crews, the Cluculz Lake Livestock Association and the Mapes community in general.
Other volunteers that contributed to the success of the cleanup day included local volunteers from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) and BC Parks staff from the Prince George office, Nechako Valley Community Services and the Vanderhoof Fish and Game Club. MFLNRO Compliance and Enforcement staff from Fort St James helped out as well. Organizers of this year’s event would also like to recognise Kal Tire for taking many old tires brought in and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako for their role in dealing with the high volume of material.
This year the group brought in the equivalent of 42 pickup loads of garbage. Last year’s project resulted in 29 loads. That’s over 70 loads garbage removed from the rural landscape since the projects began last year. Conservation Officer Cam Hill says that to his knowledge this is the first project of its kind in the region that specifically targets large volume garbage and waste removal from rural and backcountry areas.
It is his hope that local residents, industry and backcountry users will appreciate the work being done by these volunteers and contribute to keeping our environment garbage free by not littering and by taking a little extra time to pack out garbage left behind by other unscrupulous individuals.
Just prior to this year’s clean-up day Hill says that he spoke with a local Guide Outfitter who was embarrassed by the amount of garbage that continually shows up along the road to one of his camps. He says he brings in visitors from around the world and sometimes bags of garbage littering the ditches and roadsides help form their first impression of British Columbia. He offered high praise for the work that these volunteers are doing. Hill says that Conservation Officers, the RCMP and Compliance and Enforcement Officers from MFLNRO frequently will locate evidence linking ownership to bags of residential garbage or even garbage left behind by hunting and or industrial camps and will prosecute those responsible. In the past charges and/or court action has been taken with fines ranging from a simple $115 violation tickets to court imposed sentences that can include jail time and/or fines ranging up to one million dollars for the introduction of the more serious hazardous wastes into the environment.
Hill says that stopping littering and the dumping of large quantities of waste, including old vehicles, freezers and fridges, etc. is a difficult thing. A lot of people just don’t feel any ownership to their natural environment.
These same people would never throw and leave a gum wrapper in the middle of their living room floor but think nothing of chucking beer cans out the windows of their vehicle. What is clearly needed is a strong, consistent message delivered by community leaders indicating that society will not tolerate littering. Without such messaging a few good citizens will continue to spend valuable time cleaning up the messes left behind by the lazy and ignorant.
Hill encourages anybody who witnesses polluters introducing any type of litter or waste into the environment to contact the Conservation Officer Services 24 hour Call Center at 1-877-952-7277. Callers may remain anonymous if they wish.