Werner Zier of Cranbrook is a regular user of the Cranbrook Community Forest, an arboreal gem on the eastern side of town. He is used to seeing the forest mistreated by dumpers, litterers and partiers. But the latest display of disrespect was almost too much.
Someone recently used the Community Forest to dump a large amount of household type garbage. Foul, malodorous broken bags of garbage were scattered throughout the trees beside the path into the forest, just off Highway 3. The garbage had been flung with abandon — bags had even caught in the trees and were hanging there, dripping their contents onto the ground.
“People are classless,” an angry Zier said. “Why would they do this? They’re two minutes to the Transfer Station. I just don’t get it.”
“I want someone to go through that garbage, find a name. There’s fines for littering. At least they got them on that.”
“A nice juicy fine for that idiocy would be just appropriate.”
As a regular user, Zier has seen numerous instances of similar behaviour.
“We’ve packed out bags of garbage on our own initiative,” he said. “We’ve found garbage cans full of deer guts. We’ve found condoms, cigarette butts, syringes, (take-out) coffee cups. People throw all their garbage at the gate. It’s a party place. They need to lock that gate off at night.”
And what could be a better bear attractant than huge rotting piles of garbage in the Community Forest, just off the road?
“I pack a rock in each hand when I go up there, because of the bears,” Zier said.
Grant Griffin, a board member of the Cranbrook Community Forest Society, had also seen the latest piles of trash. He said Forest Service personnel, who take care of clean-up and enforcement, did find out the identity of the culprit, but nothing could be done, as the person was from outside the area, was long gone, and couldn’t easily be located.
“The enforcement people said (the latest mess) was one of the worst they’d ever seen,” Griffin said.
Dumping is an ongoing problem in the Community Forest, said Griffin, who’s been on the board for several years. “But over the years there’s been a gradual improvement. At one point, everything got dumped up there.”
The Cranbrook Community Forest is 2,000 hectares of crown land on the eastern boundary of Cranbrook and the Eager Hills area north of Hwy 3/95. It is a semi-wilderness recreation area and is managed as an interpretive forest and protected under the Forests and Range Act regulations. It contains a mixture of forest, grassland and lakes, providing a home to an abundance of birds, waterfowl, deer, coyotes, ground squirrels, and other wildlife species, as well as amazing wildflowers and plants. There are several identified and registered archeological sites at various locations in the forest containing cultural heritage materials.
The Cranbrook Community Forest Society is a provincially registered, non-profit society incorporated in the year 2000. The purpose of the society is to raise community awareness and support for maintaining the long term integrity of the CCF as a valuable outdoor educational and recreational asset for all members of the community and visitors alike.