Garbage has become an ongoing issue in the Silver Skagit area.
Campers, hikers, party goers and even people dumping trash they’d rather not pay to get rid of at the local landfill, are using back roads to dispose of their litter.
It’s not a new problem, but it’s one David Flexhaug would like to see stopped.
The Hope resident has dedicated countless hours to cleaning up the area along Silver Skagit Road. Two or three times a week he and his wife Terry go out with a truck and dozens of garbage bags to pick up litter left behind by others.
“There’s lots of grad parties up here at this time of year. I’ve cleaned up many already. Some people respect the bush and pack out what they bring in. But, a lot of the people don’t and that’s why I carry on this service,” said Flexhaug.
He is carrying on the work started by Don Bush, several years ago.
“Don wanted to know where his water source came from and came up here,” explained Flexhaug
Bush noticed things in the creek – garbage, paint cans and even a motor home – and started coming up once a week to clean up.
By chance, he ran into Flexhaug who decided to lend a hand.
Health issues forced Bush to stop, but Flexhaug has continued on.
“Last year was the first full year doing it by myself.”
In that year he cleared more than 300 bags of garbage, four television sets, construction material and even two freezers filled with rotten fish.
He gets no money for his efforts. However the District of Hope does allow him to take the garbage he collects to the landfill for free.
The only problem is after a hard weekend of garbage collection, the dump is closed on Mondays.
“I load my carport up with garbage so the bears don’t get into it.”
As well as cleaning up garbage, Flexhaug hands out garbage bags to people he meets in the area and has several garbage cans that he monitors.
He feels the message he’s trying to promote is starting to stick.
“People are catching on a little bit,” he said.
He and his wife patrol from the start of Silver Skagit Road all the way to kilometre 19.
He said it’s a large area, and sometimes a daunting task, but as a nature lover and hunter, it’s worth it.
“Some days I come up and see the deer and the bears and it’s rewarding.”
Other nature enthusiasts share a similar story.
John Lang a director at the Hope Mountain Centre said several volunteers went out at the end of May to clean up an area by Silver Creek.
The group cleared everything from mattresses to picture frames, toilets to roof shingles.
“It’s that time of year again, when the annual spring clean up ends up being dumped into the forests, creeks and rivers that surround our town,” said Lang.
He said it’s an ongoing problem where people, not wanting to pay the landfill fees, merely drive into the wilderness and dump their garbage.
There’s even one person who continuously drops of bags of used kitty litter.
John Fortoloczky, Hope’s chief administrative officer said the district is aware that the area is often used for dumping. However, it is difficult to prevent the actions unless witnessed. He also noted that a majority of the Silver Skagit Road area lies outside of Hope’s boundaries.
Hope RCMP Staff Sgt. Suki Manj said they do receive the odd call regarding dumping and do investigate, but unless something left behind can help identify the person responsible, little can be done.