Clean Ups · Events · Tread Lightly

2011 – East Stave Lake Clean Up

As I sit here tonight with a red Gatorade and some feel good pills, some may be thinking that I tied one on last night.. however It’s the result of an amazing day where I am left exhausted yet energized at the same time.  Covered in scratches, a few bruises, and my layers of dirt have layers of dirt on them.  And I will be back June 4th for the next one on the West Side.

There were many great pictures taken by Maciej(Mat) Radoszewski and can be seen on his site fantomdesigns – http://www.flickr.com/photos/fantomdesigns/sets/72157626444770233/

Today marked my 3rd Stave Lake Clean up of the 4 Wheel Drive Association of BC (4WDABC), and each year I leave feeling so perplexed at the feelings of both disgust at what the people will do to this world, and on the other hand so amazed by those who come out to support the events and the amount of effort they put into the day of clean up.  Before I get into the details, I wanted to give a shout out to our amazing sponsors and people who helped make this happen.

  • 4 Wheel Drive Association of BC Board of Directors
  • 110 volunteers
  • Fraser Valley Metal Exchange
  • Funbouncers.ca
  • Big Country Customs
  • C&C Trucking
  • Davies  Sand and Gravel
  • Vantage Contracting
  • Bear Crane Services
  • District of Mission
  • Back Road Maps and Books (Mussio Ventures)
  • Square One Insurance
  • Bridal Falls Waterpark
  • WorldCaching
  • Freybe Meats
  • Fraser Valley Regional District, especially Dick Bogstie.
  • Napier Enterprises

This was the first organized clean up by the 4WDABC on the East Side, Kim was a bit nervous in the planning, however all came together quite well.  In total with over 110 helping pairs of hands, the Recycle Bin was filled to over Capacity and Dump Truck after Dump Truck left to take their fill to the land fill.  Those that were helping to set up started arriving at 7 AM, first to clean up the staging site, then set up the necessary tents, tables and other items that would be handy.  Coffee  happened about 10:30, after Dick Bogstie managed to go home and grab his more powerful generator to power the coffee makers. Thanks to him we had beverages.

Global TV Did a great interview explaining the history and details behind it with Kim Reeves (President of the 4WDABC) and Steve Dillen (Land Use Director 4WDABC) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pk6irgc52I

The sun soon came up over the ridge and warmed us up, people started arriving, first a single truck, then another, then slowly but surely the area was filled to the brim with the vehicles that would help out by 10 AM.  Much to Kim’s surprise, between his work and that of the other supporters we managed to help gather a huge turn out. As well a huge thank you to the Geocachers from around BC, Herd of Turtles, Coastal Cruisers, Hunting BC, South Coast All Terrainers, FuninBC, BC4x4, Zombie Killers, Canadian Gun Nutz, Girl Guides, COLD, and BC Jeep Club.

Kim did a great job calling everyone in to explain how the process would work with the Dump Trucks, Big Recycle Bin and back hoe to pick up the metal and the areas that we wanted to focus on.  Along with ensuring everyone signed in, grabbed their tickets and knew when the lunch bell would be ringing with the scrumptious dogs that were being cooked up..  People went forth and scattered themselves in several directions, with so many hands we would be able to cover quite a bit of ground.  Most people stayed within the 6 KM mark tackling some prime locations such as Little Iraq, Davis Lake and the many Spurs along the way.  Then there were the ledges/cliffs that required some team work to get the piles of trash back up them in a chain gang format using the crane truck, ropes and pullies.

All told there was over 30,000 pounds taken out.   I’m happy to report that this year the worse we found was likely the dead crow.  Tons of live ammunition still in the fields though, which makes it almost like a walking mine field.  I could talk about the stats and facts of what we saw .. but there is something more to be said in this whole experience for me. 

I sit here tonight, covered in cuts, scrapes, completely exhausted, and beyond drained,  but on the other hand feeling so content in a job well done.  One can watch the video, see the pictures, hear the stories – but until one stands there at the face of this vast expanse of debris, one that has earned its title “Little Iraq” for a good reason and feels that overwhelming sense of where do I start, knowing how good your intentions are and for a moment saying why bother to yourself as you know that next year it will be just the same.

The ground in front of you littered with literally thousands of shot gun shells with the remnants of grow op debris just a tad bit beyond that – and that is your first 8 inches.  Then the expanse of hundreds of meters of shot up CRT monitors, cell phones, tires, mannequins that were used as practice shots – would have hated to have been the person they wanted to shoot.  Taking trip after trip, in and out of the path in front of you to fill up garbage bag after garbage bag full of items, finally running out of garbage bags to where you’re hoping the dump truck comes by so you can empty the bags into it only to reuse them again.

You see the water running through the field around you, weaving in and out of the stumps, being careful where you step due to the glass,  not wanting to sink knee deep in the water that is so full of leaching lead, chemicals and other items that you start stumbling across a dead bird and it makes you wonder if it died from trying to eat something there.  It is enough to make your skin crawl, to make you wonder if it’s time to just pack it all up and escape to be a hermit in a pristine environment – if you could find one.  However on the other hand you are determined, determined to make a difference in the world that we live in. 

Mattress springs, hard drives, cell phones, fire extinguishers, propane tanks, kitchen sinks, toilet seats, radial tires, campers, mannequins, clay pigeons, diapers, Meth Lab Remains – all of these were pulled out in the hundreds, let alone other more caustic things – all going directly into the water which then pools into Stave Lake, which feeds Hayward, which feeds Stave River and the Fraser – and then people wonder where the fish are going?  Why we have increased cancer rates in our kids and young people?

My youngest son is only 12, yet for three years in a row he proudly gets up at 6:30 to make his way out there with me to make a difference in his world, at 12 he gets it – he knows the value of what he has to offer this world – he knows the power he has to make a difference in it and he also believes.  Believes that the world can be a better place and is willing to do his fair share – at least this time he was more interested in collecting Perfect Clay Pigeons left behind then live Ammo left over.. I’ll sleep better that way.

There are also so many people who get “IT” about this as well, but they are not the people who you would envision when you first look at them.  When you speak about caring for the environment the average paradigm causes a person to think about David Suzuki, Green Peace, and many other’s – but frequently they overlook those who do so very much when out.  When you look around at those that that were there, you visualize a sea of people whose heart and soul is so dedicated to taking care of the area that they use.

Most of these people use the roads far up above where the trash is dumped by those “too lazy” to drive their mini vans pulling the trailers with the remains of the items they don’t want to spend the $20 at the dump.  These are the people that always ensure to take out a load of trash left by others on their way home for the weekend, left shaking their head, but making sure they leave the area better then when they arrived.  These are the people with the trucks where the tires sound like semi’s coming down the highway, those that the average bling bling aficionado disparage of saying “there is mud on your vehicle, how dare you park in front where I might get mud on my shoes”.

The funny thing is that these people do more to help mother earth than we can ever know or measure.  They teach their children the true difference between right and wrong,  they bring friends out that might not be there and show them the impact of their disposable world.  They make sacrifices, including dents, scratches and busted windows when throwing stoves from the war zone into their truck to take it to the scrap bin.  They are the ones who help police those back roads and keep an eye out for those in the daily drivers towing their loads of dirty diapers to toss down the ravine, and we have them to thank for not only helping to prevent it from getting worse, but also to help clean up the mess that so many turn their heads at in disgust and say “it’s not my issue”.

The sad thing is that those that help take care of this, they’re the ones that take the rap from the general public and who are at highest risk of losing access to the areas they care about because of the acts of others.  And if they lose the access to those areas, how does that help society show their appreciation to those that help, and how motivated will they be in the future?

To all those volunteers who spent the day helping out, to those that explore the back roads and clean up on a regular basis because “it’s the right thing to do”, I say thank you.  Words cannot show you how your acts are appreciated, and I hope that you truly understand what a difference you make in so many ways.  My son says thank you from his generation as well.  Thank you also to the 4WDABC for all their incredible hard work in organizing this and helping give a voice to the off road enthusiasts in BC so that the world knows that there are many who truly care.

At the end of the day I’m left hoping only one thing – that Karma truly does play it’s part in the whole scope of balance in this.. as I’d hate to be on the receiving end of that bad karma