Campsites trashed

The site looks as if someone upended a couple of big dumpsters and then hauled them away, leaving only the trash. If only it was a random act

This site

The site looks as if someone upended a couple of big dumpsters and then hauled them away, leaving only the trash.

If only it was a random act.

But trashing wilderness campsites has become all too common on summer weekends in the West Country, where thousands of people converge to enjoy free camping, unfettered by the fees and restrictions of regular campgrounds, says Curtis Thomas, who works in the area.

A foreman at the Husky Ram River gas plant, Thomas is among the many thousands of people who like to spend their weekends out in the wilderness along the eastern slopes, where people are allowed to chose a site and camp for as long as they wish.

“Everybody loves to random camp, you know,” said Thomas.

It’s quiet and, except on the long weekends, you don’t have neighbouring campers right on your doorstep.

“On the long weekends here, it’s a convoy eight hours long of campers and quads and whatnot, heading out into the West Country. That’s the worst time, is the long weekends, because we have such an influx on the long weekends.”

The problem is, a small percentage of those people do not chose to leave the sites they way they found them, he said.

“It’s just the few bad apples in every carton that wreck it for everybody.”

Whether they assume that someone else will clean up after them or whether they simply don’t care, that particular group of people leaves a horrible mess that creates hazards for wildlife and headaches for other humans.

“The biggest risk is that some animals will eat the garbage,” said Thomas.

Unable to discriminate between food and wrappers, bears eat everything, and then their stomachs and intestines become full of plastic and foil with no room for food and they starve to death, he said.

“Other than that, it’s just an ungodly, unsightly mess. The whole thing is total lack of respect for the wilderness you’re going out to enjoy. It’s not a self-cleaning system out there.”

A member of Thomas’s crew found one such site near the junction of Hwy 752 and the Forestry Trunk road while out on a job near the plant.

“He was totally disgusted. He went out and did his job and came back, grabbed a bunch of large garbage bags, he filled three of them out there. An operator who was on the site went out and helped him clean up out there.”

But Thomas doesn’t want people to be able to assume that there will always be someone around to pick up after them.

Provincial workers do what they can as do campers and workers who have the time and resources. But many of the sites are simply left to nature, and that’s just not acceptable, he said.

There are still hundreds of sites out there that are still a mess, said Thomas.

Alongside the ugliness and hazards, campers and oilfield workers do not head into the backcountry to become garbage collectors, he said.

Sustainable Resource Development has reported some success with large garbage bins, sponsored for oilfield and pipeline companies working in the area, that are left out in four key areas during the long weekends.

Thomas plans to approach his business unit to see if they can provide additional bins top encourage more people to clean up their camps.

Random camping is a good system if people use it properly, he said.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month