Wild Northerner Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 13

HEADLINE: Illegal dumps tarnish nature

BY SCOTT HADDOW

Wild Northerner staff

There is no clear way to get an accurate number on illegal dumps and dumping sites in the wilderness of northern Ontario. They are out there and there are a lot of them. Many are discovered by anglers, hunters andhikers, among other outdoor enthusiasts and MNRF conservation officers.

They can range from a pile of bottles and cans in an old firepit to huge expanses of construction debris.

MNRF conservation officer Wesley McLellan has been on the job in the region for eight years. He has come across his share of dumps in the Sudbury district. His reaction is always the same.

“It’s always upsetting to see,” McLellan said. “It’s difficult to get an exact number of sites around the Sudbury area, and northern Ontario. Around Sudbury there is a good 100 sites. There’s probably more.”

The waste tarnishes and scars the beauty of wilderness. The list of trash left out on crownland is overwhelming. It runs a wide range of refuse. There are garbage bags with miscellaneous waste, tires, roof shingles, used lumber, siding and almost anything else one can think of. The impact of these illegal dumps and dump sites can be cosmetic as well as environmental depending on what was left in the bush.

“It’s not pretty to look at,” McLellan said. “It’s a wide variety of stuff thrown out.”

Enforcement of these dumps can be difficult, but it is not entirely hopeless and the MNRF will go to any lengths necessary to deliver justice to guilty parties. Fines can vary depending on the situation. Maximum fines for individuals are $15,000. Corporations can be slapped with a maximum fine of $25,000 for a first offence and $50,000 for a second offence. There are also subsequent fines imposed if a court-ordered clean up was issued to a guilty party and they failed to do so by a certain date.

“It can be difficult to track back to somebody unless the public sees or evidence is left,” McLellan said. “I’ve been fortunate to track it back. People get fined and get a court order to clean it up by a certain date. The MNRF will step in and clean it up if they are issues with it.”

There are many outdoorspeople who have ultimate respect for the wilderness they conduct their activities in. These people treat the land and water with respect because they realize it needs to be as pristine as possible so they can continue to hunt and fish in the future.

Hunter and angler Andy Lalonde feels his blood pressure raise when he comes across trash and dump sites, especially when they are close to home and the heart. Lalonde is out to set a good example and it angers him others can’t do the same.

“it's happened to me quite a few times, including right at my landing at camp,” Lalonde said. “It's discouraging, especially having young kids and trying to teach them not to do these things. We usually pack out more than we bring in, and it be quite honest, I see it more hunting than fishing.”

People who discard any kind of garbage gets under the skin quickly of angler and hunter Mary Stewart. The disrespect and laziness boggles her mind at times.

“I have come across this numerous times while out in the woods doing various things, but especially while walking my dog down snowmobile trails in the spring, summer, or fall,” Stewart said. “I find it infuriating because it would take someone more effort to dump the items where I have found them than to bring them directly to the dump. Not only is it unsightly but it is damaging to the natural elements that surround it. Couches, furniture, appliances, photo albums, and various other things that will never break down. Are dump fees really that expensive?”

Some outdoorspeople, like Simon Fortin, take matters into their own hands when other people leave refuse.

“It is an issue I see quite often and it bothers me,” Fortin said. “I see it all the time while fishing, hiking, camping and hunting. I have had friends throw beer cans in the woods right in front of me and I make sure they go and pick them up. The worst I have seen yet was a while ago when the new Highway 69 was being built about two-km behind my house, I found all sorts of garbage left out from the construction workers and I mean lots of it. Dozens of full garbage bags were ripped apart and scattered everywhere by animals. We reported it to MNRF and police, but we returned a few weeks later and it hadn’t been cleaned up, so I cleaned most of it up.”

Mat Koprash, another diehard outdoorsman, goes outdoors prepared to take care of the waste from idiotic people in the bush. It is not what he looks forward to.

“If you can bring it in you can bring it back out - it's that simple,” Koprash said. “When I go steelheading, I bring plastic bags with me just for that reason now as I have seen it accumulating more and more over the years. Boat ramps are their own beast and I incorporated a launch clean up at every event my club hosts to do a little bit of help to our environment and local lakes. I really don't understand how people are that lazy or disrespectful to their fisheries. They literally just utilized the fishery/body of water and then toss their trash on the ground to wash into the lake. It doesn't make much sense to me. It has happened more than I'd like to see, both hunting and fishing, and I don't like it.”

The MNRF encourages anyone who sees people discarding garbage in the wilderness to call the MNRF tip line at 1-877-847-7667 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. It is important to try and take key notes on the suspected activity, vehicle involved (licence plate number, colour, make, model), date and time of day, location and description of people involved.

teach them not to do these things. We usually pack out more than we bring in, and it be quite honest, I see it more hunting than fishing.”

People who discard any kind of garbage gets under the skin quickly of angler and hunter Mary Stewart. The disrespect and laziness boggles her mind at times.

“I have come across this numerous times while out in the woods doing various things, but especially while walking my dog down snowmobile trails in the spring, summer, or fall,” Stewart said. “I find it infuriating because it would take someone more effort to dump the items where I have found them than to bring them directly to the dump. Not only is it unsightly but it is damaging to the natural elements that surround it. Couches, furniture, appliances, photo albums, and various other things that will never break down. Are dump fees really that expensive?”

Some outdoorspeople, like Simon Fortin, take matters into their own hands when other people leave refuse.

“It is an issue I see quite often and it bothers me,” Fortin said. “I see it all the time while fishing, hiking, camping and hunting. I have had friends throw beer cans in the woods right in front of me and I make sure they go and pick them up. The worst I have seen yet was a while ago when the new Highway 69 was being built about two-km behind my house, I found all sorts of garbage left out from the construction workers and I mean lots of it. Dozens of full garbage bags were ripped apart and scattered everywhere by animals. We reported it to MNRF and police, but we returned a few weeks later and it hadn’t been cleaned up, so I cleaned most of it up.”

Mat Koprash, another diehard outdoorsman, goes outdoors prepared to take care of the waste from idiotic people in the bush. It is not what he looks forward to.

“If you can bring it in you can bring it back out - it's that simple,” Koprash said. “When I go steelheading, I bring plastic bags with me just for that reason now as I have seen it accumulating more and more over the years. Boat ramps are their own beast and I incorporated a launch clean up at every event my club hosts to do a little bit of help to our environment and local lakes. I really don't understand how people are that lazy or disrespectful to their fisheries. They literally just utilized the fishery/body of water and then toss their trash on the ground to wash into the lake. It doesn't make much sense to me. It has happened more than I'd like to see, both hunting and fishing, and I don't like it.”

The MNRF encourages anyone who sees people discarding garbage in the wilderness to call the MNRF tip line at 1-877-847-7667 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. It is important to try and take key notes on the suspected activity, vehicle involved (licence plate number, colour, make, model), date and time of day, location and description of people involved.