The rubbish that has been discarded or carelessly left in popular Ghost recreation areas would continue to pile up if not for passionate volunteer stewards of the popular destination.
On Aug. 14, a small group of them from the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS) and Alberta Backcountry Hunters and Anglers were out collecting trash and in a matter of hours had removed three pickup truck loads from the South Ghost 4x4 staging area.
"I guess a lot of people going out there don't really know that there typically isn't anybody picking up after them and they just leave their garbage out there," says GWAS executive director Marina Krainer.
They picked up several heavy metal objects, a fire extinguisher, general rubbish, and, of course, plenty of shells. That's typical of what is retrieved every time they go out.
"We just went to one location and that kept us busy enough. This time we were a rather small group, probably because it was the middle of August and people are still away. Considering the small group we had, the amount of garbage we collected was pretty incredible."
There are several popular destinations within the Ghost watershed area and the volume of trash left behind has been an issue for decades.
Alberta Parks has two recreation engagement officers assigned to the Ghost but their job isn't to pick up after people, says Krainer.
"The province mostly does some engagement and some enforcement but they have to catch people in the act."
"They do sometimes spend their time picking up garbage but really their job is to engage with recreational users and talk to them a little about how we can keep our backyard nice and clean for everybody to enjoy."
GWAS works in conjunction with other volunteer organizations in cleanups when possible. Krainer says they have a tight schedule this fall and is uncertain if it will be possible to organize another one this year.
Recreational Stewardship Fair
Registration is now open for a free Recreational Stewardship Fair at the Waiporous Creek Campground day use area on Sept. 24.
Several organizations have come together to hold a fair in three locations in the Eastern Slopes. Organizers call it a chance to discover backcountry skills, eat delicious food, take part in hands-on activities, and learn how to be a steward of the land.
The first fair was held in Nordegg on Aug. 6 and there's one this weekend in the Crowsnest Pass on Aug. 20,
It's being presented by Cows and Fish, which promotes healthy landscapes by fostering riparian stewardship. Also making it possible are Alberta Environment and Parks, Trout Unlimited Canada, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Elbow River Watershed Partnership, Trails 4 Tomorrow, Alberta Off-highway Vehicles Association, Calgary Jeep Association, Clearwater County, Ghost Watershed Alliance Society, and the Oldman Watershed Council.
Watch for more details as the event draws closer
It's free to attend and you can register on Eventbrite here.