Stewardship stories: this year’s Wapiti Dunes clean-up was 25 tonnes of fun

Every year since 2009, good Samaritans in Grande Prairie have dedicated a Saturday in June to taking out the trash – lots of it. Their goal is to help restore the Wapiti Dunes, an area near Grande Prairie that gets riddled with garbage as a result of illegal dumping

This year’s clean-up marked a great milestone: our highest attendance ever. Over 100 people showed up to help restore this 18 square kilometre area, which many Albertans use for hiking, dirtbiking, quadding and other outdoor activities. Some people volunteered representing local businesses and recreation groups; others were community members who came out to help of their own accord.

This year also saw some new “heavy lifting”, thanks to some of our volunteer partners. In previous years, some of the heavier garbage littering the site had to stay put because volunteers couldn’t lift it – but that wasn’t the case this year. Local energy businesses and recreation groups came together to make sure the clean-up was a “clean sweep”: they brought out dump trucks, front end loaders, and other vehicles to do the heavy lifting.

2014 Wapiti dunes cleanup caterpillar 2

Quadding and 4 x 4 groups got in on the action as well – using their quads to haul burnt-out, abandoned vehicles out of ditches and off of trails. Incredibly, the tonnage of garbage removed since the clean-up started in 2009 doesn’t include these vehicles, which are investigated by the RCMP and then moved out at a later date.

Just like at the 2013 clean-up (when this image was taken), rec groups helped us haul out abandoned vehicles.

Just like at the 2013 clean-up (when this image was taken), rec groups helped us haul out abandoned vehicles.

That being said, the day’s work wouldn’t have been possible without old-fashioned elbow grease. A small army of volunteers filled bags with garbage, filled bins with bags, and dragged more cumbersome items out from the nooks and crannies where they’d been hiding. The unseasonably rainy weather even ended up helping us out – our wildland firefighters were able to assist because it was a low hazard day. They stayed right until the end of the clean-up and then left to tackle a wildfire.

In total, our volunteers pulled more than 25 tonnes of garbage from the dunes, making the site cleaner, safer, and more enjoyable for all Albertans. To all of Saturday’s volunteers: thank you! You truly demonstrate the power of stewardship in action.

The Wapiti Dunes clean-up has removed over 400,000 pounds of trash from the site since 2009. To get updates about the next clean-up and other stewardship activities near you, follow us on Twitter or join our Respect the Land community on Facebook.

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