Dusty-Ann Campbell has worked in some pretty grimy locales over the last two years.
So after being laid off from the oil patches in Fort McMurray and Edmonton, the Rossland native was looking forward to escaping to the lush wild of the Pend D’Oreille with her equine companion, Jay.
What she ended up seeing on her return to the area was garbage – and a lot of it.
“I’ve been taking my horse out and riding quite a bit,” said Campbell, 25. “Going through at a slower pace and being up a little higher, I started to notice everything from bottles and cans, to things like hot dog packages, cigarette butts and so much other trash. Then I realized that it wasn’t just along the main trails, it is in every nook and cranny.”
Campbell turned her dismay into action with an April 11 and April 12 weekend event she’s dubbed “Early Earth day in the Pondy – Volunteer Clean Up & BBQ.”
“I started to carry bags and pick up on my own,” she explained. “But it’s just too big a job for me, and I started seeing this backyard paradise as all of ours.”
Campbell created the event on Facebook and says word spread quickly, and she’s hoping for a large turnout of people in her age group.
“I kind of look at it, that it’s my age group and generation that has made a lot of the mess, especially the party mess in the bush” she said. “We feel privileged that we grew up in this area because instead of going to nightclubs, we were sitting around campfires.
“This is a special part of the West Kootenay. We need to show it some respect and it’s important to carry that respect to the younger generations.”
While the clean up kicks off Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., Campbell said volunteers will be welcomed throughout the day and for any length of time.
Garbage bags and gloves will be available in three marked locations: near the cattle guard at Buckley campground; Shotgun (Lookout) Point; and the Salmo River bridge.
“We’ve made up early Earth Day signs to mark where the box of gloves and bags will be,” she said. “People can come out for whatever time schedule works for them and spend minutes or hours.”
She says volunteers can follow the roadway to more open areas, but requests they get out of their vehicles, walk into the bush and start pick up from there.
Campbell is using her truck and horse trailer, if needed, to secure the amassed waste before bringing it to the landfill for proper disposal the following day.
She plans to use money garnered from recycling bottles and cans to pay the tipping fees.
Anything left over, she says is going to a local charity such as the BCSPCA or a local youth group.
“I grew up in a family that worked in B.C. parks and the logging industry,” she said. “I was educated about the environment my whole life and have seen the Pend D’Oreille get really bad over the last 12 years.
“Nobody thinks of this as our mother earth, it’s just the ground that we walk on.”
For more information about the clean up, visit Facebook and click on the Early Earth Day in the Pondy event.