With the August long weekend coming to a close, the Alberta Government says it’s hard at work alongside volunteers clearing garbage from provincial parks and public land.
“It’s definitely discouraging to find dumped garbage on public land or on our parks,” says conservation officer Chad Stevens. “Some of the items I’ve found have included pieces of household furniture, appliances, auto parts; generally it’s just big bags of household garbage.”
Nearly 42,000 pounds of garbage was hauled out of the Dunes Recreation Area south of Grande Prairie last fall. Stevens explains that not only is it a pain to remove, it’s also bad for the ecosystem.
“Discarded paint cans or other toxic chemicals may contaminate the soil or contaminate waterways. It’s bad for wildlife in that they may ingest or get tangled in the material, and it’s bad for Albertans as it’s an eyesore and it distracts from the natural beauty of the landscape.
Punishment for illegal dumping can range from simply being ordered to clean it up to a $100,000 fine or court appearance. So far this season, officers have have had 2,400 incidents involving abuse of public land that resulted in some kind of enforcement.
“Fines levelled against violators would definitely be more than the cost of paying the dump fee to dispose of the waste properly in the first place,” adds Stevens.
The government also wants to get the message out that their Report A Poacher hotline covers a whole range of damage to the environment beyond its namesake. In addition to poaching, witnesses can call 1-800-642-3800 if they see illegal dumping or someone driving a vehicle or boat into areas closed off to the public. The hotline has received 100 calls so far in 2017.
With files from Chris Hunter, 99.7 Country FM