The Nature Conservancy of Canada is reporting an increase in dumping of garbage on its conservation lands that parallel the Elk River and Highway 3 between Fernie and Sparwood, in the Hosmer strip area. The lands are part of the Elk Valley Heritage Conservation Area, which was created in 2004 when the Nature Conservancy of Canada purchased 1,213 hectares of valley-bottom land from Tembec.
In recent years, the amount of garbage and debris being thrown out on these lands has escalated. Abandoned campers, TVs, washing machines, meat scraps and animal bones are among the trash that has been dumped there.
The dumping of garbage can cause health and environmental problems, increase fire risk and cost significant amounts to clean up. Of particular concern to the conservation group is the threat that illegal dumping poses to wildlife. Bears in particular face an increased risk of death and injury when they become habituated to garbage in settled areas, which can lead to vehicle or train collisions, or the decision to euthanize problem bears.
This area provides critical habitat for wildlife moving between the Crown of the Continent region to the south and the remote wilderness of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Grizzly bear, wolf and wolverine are all key species that use these lands to move safely through their range.
Illegal dumping also detracts from the community’s enjoyment of the outdoors. The Elk Valley Heritage Conservation Area is a popular recreation site for hiking, picnicking, camping and hunting. Recreational users benefit from these lands staying clean and safe.
Some informal clean-up efforts have helped to fight the accumulation of garbage in the area.
“We are very appreciative of locals who have initiated their own clean-up campaign,” says Richard Klafki, stewardship coordinator with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “One individual hauled over three pick up loads from these lands to the local transfer station.”
The Fernie transfer station is open seven days a week, and the Sparwood transfer station is open Monday to Saturday. In addition to household garbage, these stations accept scrap metal, clean wood waste, yard waste, car batteries and propane tanks.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is planning to host a community clean-up event in the spring of 2017. For more information or to get involved, contact the Nature Conservancy of Canada at 250-342-5521 or