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.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Celebrating 4-20 in Red Deer

For years, 4-20 was a time to protest for the legalization of… Continue reading

Optimism remains for Red Deer hospital expansion

Red Deer’s incoming UCP MLAs both have been strong supporters of expansion

Sport of axe throwing growing in Red Deer

True North Axe Throwing wants sport to be ‘Canadian version of darts’

RDC cancels championship-winning golf program due to tight finances

Short season, small number of student golfers were also considerations

WATCH: An ‘Eggstemely Fun Easter’ at Bower Place in Red Deer

Bower Place mall made sure Red Deer families were able to have… Continue reading

Dozens hurt in collapse of deck during wedding celebration in Langley, B.C.

LANGLEY, B.C. — Police say dozens of people were injured, some critically,… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25.5 million jackpot… Continue reading

Uber driver charged in two sexual assault investigations: Toronto police

Toronto police say an Uber driver is facing sexual assault charges in… Continue reading

PEI Green party candidate Josh Underhay and son killed in canoeing accident

CHARLOTTETOWN — With only a few days before voters were to go… Continue reading

Egyptians vote on changes that would extend el-Sissi’s rule

CAIRO — Egyptians cast their ballots Saturday on the first of three… Continue reading

Ex-Marine arrested in North Korea embassy attack in Madrid

WASHINGTON — A man suspected of involvement in a mysterious dissident group’s… Continue reading

New bout of heavy fighting in Yemen kills dozens

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni officials say heavy fighting in Yemen’s southern Dhale… Continue reading

Most Read