“Red necks and Billy Bobs” take heed, Andrew Drouin is on your tail.
The founder of the South Okanagan Trail Alliance has a hate on for people who dump garbage in wilderness regions and is stepping up his efforts to crack down on those responsible.
“It’s big on recreation up there,” he said about garbage cleanup area in the Carmi and Beaverdell roads region where his group and the Upper Carmi Neighbourhood Association were doing cleanup work Saturday. “But I’ll tell you that unfortunately it’s also big with Red Necks and Billy Bobs with shotguns, garbage, shotgun shells and broken beer bottles.
“They’re also dumping garbage bags that they didn’t want to probably pay five bucks to take it to the dump so instead they’ll spend $10 bucks in gas and go and dump it in the bush.”
Thirteen people, ranging in age from 10 to 70, took part in Saturday’s three-hour clean up, which also included members of the public who were asked to join in.
“Every single one of the side roads that divert off the main Carmi Beaverdell road has garbage, some of it small piles some of it big piles and everything in between,” said Drouin, who described the culprits as “the walking dead who live among us who use the pristine forest as their own personal dump site.”
According to Drouin there are at least a dozen sites between the power station on Carmi through Beaverdell that are popular with “fools” who dump garbage.
“Anything that one could find in a home, garage, shop, construction site is ending up in the forest ‘Up Carmi,” said Drouin. “The end result is we loaded eight trucks and trailers in all, amounting to 4,400 pounds of everything you can imagine.”
He hopes to talk with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to enlist their help to reduce illegal dumping through several measures he has in mind.
Among those also taking part Saturday was Carmi resident Dana Johnsen who regularly rides her horse in the area and frequently comes across people getting rid of trash there.
“They seem like they feel they have the right to dump the garbage and they are quite self-righteous and get quite angry when I confront them,” said Johnsen, who has personally paid for a trail camera to catch the culprits. “Only once have I been threatened, they said to mind my own business and get out of here before they push me out of here.
“It’s getting worse.”
The garbage haul she found this particular day included a concrete sink, kid’s toys, furniture and a skill saw.
Drouin’s group, which numbers about two dozen, also works with the provincial government agencies.
“We sign, sanction, build and maintain trails, bike and hiking trails,” said Drouin, who is also founder and past-president of the Penticton and Area Cycling Association. “We’re not a bike organization, were not a hiking organization, we’re not an equestrian organization. We’re a trail organization.”
In the Carmi area alone he estimated there are hundreds or more people who use the region year-round.
“In the winter there are lots of snowshoes, a lot of cross-country skis, backcountry skis, tobogganers and in the spring summer and fall, there are lots of hikers, equestrians, dirt bikers, quadders and mountain bikers,” said Drouin.
The alliance is soon going to be adding another weapon to its illegal dumping arsenal, two night vision trail cameras, funding for which came from the Federation of Mountain Clubs B.C.
“There are no lights or flash so we can try and catch some of these people and see if we can get some licence numbers and faces and if so, suing the bejesus out of them,” said Drouin.
In particular, he wants to catch some of the increasing number of people disposing of building renovation waste, some even doing it for profit.
While Drouin used to be part of the “rogue” groups that built trails wherever they pleased, his organization has since began partnering with the Ministry of Forests Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. and B.C. Parks.
“They’ve been fantastic to work with,” said Drouin about the government agencies. “They’ve given us so much land to work with that you wouldn’t believe it, more land than we know what to do with.
“And for me, I’m a computer tech by trade so it’s the ying to the yang of sitting at the computer.”