Ron and Kim Lentz walk their dogs around Maiden Lake nearly every day. Along their walks, the pair is always on the lookout for trash and noxious weeds, collecting them as they go.
The Lentzs joined a larger community volunteer clean up effort at the privately owned lake on Aug. 13, an initiative of a partnership between Wildsight, Fernie Trails Alliance and the East Kootenay Invasive Plants Council, and in cooperation with Schickedanz West.
As he placed a large pile of weeds into one of the several garbage bags he managed to fill over the two hours he was volunteering, Lentz said the invasive plant was called spotted knapweed, an aggressive type of weed that takes over any area it grows.
“This whole shore is all that spotted knapweed,” he said, adding the amount he removed barely made a dent in the overall amount of the purple flowering plant that displaces anything else trying to grow in the area.
While pesticides would remove the weed, it’s too dangerous to use them around the water, he said.
“The intent is to pull them all out. If you just cut them they’ll grow back. And then they are going to get a steamer and heat the ground to try and kill off the seeds. The high temperatures will kind of kill off the seeds.”
Lentz, who is part of the Fernie Nature Club, said the man-made lake, while very much used by the people of Fernie, isn’t under the jurisdiction of the city as it rests on private land, so it’s important for the community to lend a hand to help with its upkeep.
“It’s just a nice thing to do. It’s part of your civic duty. I don’t work for a living anymore so why not? I can do this sort of things that other people can’t.”
Kim Lentz agreed.
“We do this all the time. Every time we walk we pick up litter and pull weeds. It’s just part of our everyday routine,” she said, adding there is a lot of garbage in the area.
“It blows from the surrounding parking lots. We’re finding a lot of plastic straws and plastic bags and cigarette butts.”
Another trail-user who helped out with the clean up effort was John Shaw of the Fernie Trails Alliance.
Shaw said he uses the trail a lot and brings the running club from Isabella Dicken Elementary School there as well.
“It’s just an awesome spot and it’s falling apart because no
one is really managing it.”
Shaw said the city will hopefully one day take it over so it can receive proper maintenance.
“It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time hopefully, but until then we need to, as a community, step up and take care of it.”
During the clean up, Shaw was helping out with cleaning up the trail.
“We just wanted to clear some of the brush so there’s sightlines for people riding their bikes and for people who are walking dogs to they can see who’s coming,” he said. “It was very overgrown. If there’s any wildlife on the trail you want to be able to see ahead and see them.”
There was bear scat on the trail, suggesting there was a bear recently on the trail, he said. “So you want to be able to see them before you go around a corner.”