Can we really say HAPPY EARTH DAY 2018?
I personally don't think so. An immense lack of respect for our planet is truly all I see. It's also accompanied by hypocrisy. One flagrant example would be the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park in Boucherville, Québec. Yes, it's not really a National Park, in another province it would be a Provincial Park.
What has struck me the most since the arrival of a new park director has been the overwhelming accumulation of trash in the park since September 2017. Coincidence or not, it does coincide with the September 2017 arrival of the new director.
As president of the park's friend association, the RED FLAGS were obvious and overly abundant. I personally can't remember one true statement that came out of the mouth of this individual. Low moral and negative energy seemed to have settled within the staff as one employee after the other denounced conflict of interest and inadequacies. The park had started its downward spiral, entropy in action...
The litter situation was so bad last fall that visitor after visitor were asking for trash bags at the service center. Although the message was heard, ZERO action was being taken on by the park director to remedy the situation. I was also picking up trash, especially plastic along the banks in the designated fishing areas and glass containers, most of them broken. They represented a danger to visitors, especially young children. This goes without mentioning the dangers to the local wildlife who make the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park their home.
Eventually December 3rd rolled around. I made a request for a Thule carriage and a few garbage bags. Naturally no answer. At least no answer until I deposited a small trash bag full of glass containers with my business card attached at the front entrance of the admin building. A quick reply came in, a sorry excuse that the Provincial Employee Union would not endorse him supporting my efforts but that he could not stop me from cleaning the park. He also promised all the trash would be removed prior to the first snowfall. This is December 4th in Québec, Canada. You're on borrowed time when it comes to planning any activity prior to the first snowfall. In addition I knew he no longer had the staff to take on this gigantic task, the park had turned over to its winter crew which is very limited. Basically a handful of employees and a ton of administrators, most of them afraid to get their hands dirty, except for one. If I knew that, he should have known that, unless he's just not at the right place in his career moves.
At that point I knew it was an empty promise, so I continued to clean a section of the park that encompassed the majority of the litter. I removed 9 trash bags of litter and approximately 26 kilos of glass containers along the Grande Riviere trail.
The true shocker came on the 5th of December when the park director, while on the phone with a disgruntled park visitor, decided to LIE. He not only answered that he had cleaned the park, but took credit for the clean-up work I undertook alone. That was his answer to a park visitor who complained about the cleanliness of the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park.
It's at that point that I quit my position from the politically correct friends association and took on the task of building awareness to get the park cleaned up. The winter was a long and messed up one under the direction of this new park director. Several pieces of equipment failed leaving the engine coolant scattered all over the natural habitat. Snow removal teams slowly destroyed infrastructure after infrastructure. Even the new multimillion dollar service center was rammed in by a park employee prior to the inaugural visit by the minister and the SEPAQ CEO.
After months of awareness building, I was invited to meet the regional director of operations and a park administrator, no park director. Although the cleanliness of the park will be addressed with a volunteer group backed by non-profit organizations, many of the outstanding issues such as employee involvement in acts of vandalism and questionable behaviors were blindly discredited. Park clean-up was also minimized as a debatable issue that can be done in fall or spring. Useless to mention it should be upkept on a daily basis, trash that litters a park situated on an archipelago has a tendency to make it into the St-Lawrence river and into the Atlantic Ocean. It all basically comes down to, if you can't admit there's a problem, you can't fix it. Actions speak louder than words and we'll see what goes on this mid May during the big clean-up. Unfortunately vegetation will have started to grow, making the clean-up harder and in all probability, less successful.
Earth Day Hypocrisy!
The true hypocrisy came last week when they dared to post an Earth Day Poster at the entrance of the park. How can you leave your park looking like a garbage dump and erect an Earth Day Poster? As far as I'm concerned that's a slap in the face to all who care about our environment.
I can't blame the litter issue entirely on park staff. Yes, some employees have been seen littering the park and others ignoring the trash, driving by it day after day when finally, three months later, I picked it up. Another big issue is the lack of maintenance personnel on the walking trails. These are the trails that lead to the fishing areas and shoreline picnic tables. Needless to say, they are the most littered areas and they barely get any attention at all.
On the flip side, what makes people litter so abundantly. It's simple, a national park, what you bring in, you bring out. Many complain there are no trash cans, so they just litter. Even in the areas with trash cans, trash often never makes it. There's a lack of self-respect when you reduce yourself to a careless polluter, usually self centered and self-entitled individuals whose contribution to society is rarely positive. Unfortunately, I don't have the answers to what makes such cancerous individuals thrive, but I know it's not isolated to this National Park, it's actually a worldwide problem and the most populated areas are most often the worst off.
Recycling Beverage Cans, Glass Bottles and Plastics
Although the park has a Park Fund that can be partly funded by recycling containers with a provincial deposit on them, very little effort is made by employees to get those cans, or even glass and plastic containers recycled. Naturally I made the effort but when staff gets to it, especially when trying to cover up dozens and dozens of beer cans that found their way in the park, apparently consumed by both visitors and staff, the trash container seems to be the easy way to dispose of recyclable materials. Not only is there a monetary value to some of these containers, but instead of recycling them, they will end up in a landfill.
The Magical Invisible Plastic Cup Lid
Harry Potter himself would be amazed by this magical object. For three weeks visitors and staff have passed by this lid, they've even at times walked right over it. It has the ability to move as it's been seen a few feet away from the service center front door and as far away as a dozen meters. I finally took it upon myself to pick it up since it was obvious no one else would.
We all contribute to the problem with our basic existence as an over-populated species on this planet. The least we can do is show some respect and try a little harder to act responsibly.
At the end of April, my SEPAQ Network card will expire and I don't see myself renewing it. The park motto is CONSERVE, PROTECT and DISCOVER... I think they have failed this territory which we trusted them with. With the nightmare experiences visitors have been subjected to since last September, I can't justify paying $8.50 per person per visit to be in a general trash dump where people seem to care very little about each other and our natural heritage.
Here's a slideshow of the current litter condition in the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park days before Earth Day 2018.
Keywords: canada, conserve, discover, environment, iles-de-boucherville, montreal, national geographic, national park, nature, nikon, north america, photo, photography, pnib, protect, quebec, sepaq, steve troletti, urban nature, wilderness, wildlife
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