Removing more than 10 tonnes of waste from Ladysmith’s watershed and forested areas each year may sound like a herculean undertaking, but for the Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club, it’s an important way to give back to the community.
For the past six years during April’s Earth Week, approximately 100 volunteers from the Club and other organizations gather for one day to remove large amounts of garbage and waste that people choose to dump along local logging roads and other rural and remote locations, rather than simply taking it to the recycling centre at Peerless Road. It’s a constant source of frustration for one Ladysmith resident who has dedicated himself to spearheading the cleanup, scouring countless back roads and forested areas for a full month prior to the event in order to map out dump sites for volunteers.
“When we first began this cleanup we really hoped that it would shed some light on the issue of illegal dumping and encourage people to do the right thing, which is taking their waste to the recycling depot,” said Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club President, Dave Judson. “However, since we started the cleanup in 2012, we have removed more than 73 tonnes of garbage, much of which could be dropped off for free. It’s really sad, especially with this state of the art recycling centre just down the road.”
Despite his frustration, Judson realizes that the Club’s efforts are profound and meaningful. Not only does the cleanup reflect how much the Club and its partners value recreational access to local forestry lands, it also protects Ladysmith’s waterways and helps to defend against a very real environmental hazard – forest fires.
“We have cleaned up so many items that create fire hazards – again, things that can easily be recycled for free,” said Judson. “Most recently, my dad and I found sliding glass doors dumped on Peerless Road. With this hot, dry, sunny weather those doors would act like a giant magnifying glass. I’m so thankful we found and removed them.”
Over the years, watershed cleanup volunteers have removed numerous items discarded throughout the area. These include televisions, tires, furniture, appliances, metal, cardboard, paper and materials contaminated with asbestos. One of the most surprising items was an abandoned 28 foot recreational vehicle. Cleaning up approximately 10 square miles once per year would be extremely costly without volunteers and donated services.
“Our Club couldn’t do this cleanup as effectively without the help of so many people. From our 100 volunteers from all walks of life, to the use of three gravel trucks and three excavators to remove piles of garbage, to the generous donations of food and beverages, we are so grateful to our community,” said Judson. “If I had to estimate how much this would cost if we were paying for it ourselves, the bill would be approximately $8000 per cleanup.”
Many hands make light work and Judson is appealing to the community for more volunteers. With that, he is also hoping that people will think twice about dumping their garbage in outdoor locations.
“We are blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Let’s all do our part to care for and protect our forests and watershed.”
For more information about the Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club’s annual cleanup and other conservation efforts, contact Dave Judson at 250-245-3690.