We need to clean up our act: If you carry it in, carry it out

New York state as a whole has some tremendous natural resources. No one knows it more than the people who use those resources time and time again, like hunters and fishermen.

From the mighty Niagara Falls and the majestic gorge that was carved by that powerful water plummeting down to the fish-rich streams flowing into the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario; from the awesome Adirondacks and Catskills to the fantastic Finger Lakes and other inland water bodies, we are truly blessed. Why, for the life of me, would anyone want to throw garbage in our waters or along our trails to litter what Mother Nature has given us?

Working in Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation as the outdoor promotions director, I have an opportunity to give familiarization tours around the western New York area. Hiking down into the gorge mentioned earlier, it’s embarrassing to see an empty soda or beer can, a plastic water bottle, a candy bar wrapper or whatever along the trail. It’s come to a point where it’s important to keep a spare trash bag in my vehicle so that when I make a trek along a trail or a creek I try to pick up some of that unsightly garbage so that our outdoors looks a little bit cleaner, a little bit more the way it should look in a natural state. If you carry it in, you should carry it out.

With Earth Day coming up April 22, one huge clean-up effort in western New York is the Spring Shoreline Sweep on that very day, taking place in Erie and Niagara counties. Last year, more than 1,500 volunteers turned out for the two-hour event that collected 11 tons of litter – that’s 22,000 pounds.

Really? Where does all of that come from? While it was no surprise that BNR Executive Director Jill Jedlicka, as well as the entire organization, were honored this year for all of their work by the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Club, the amount of trash collected was mind-boggling. Are people really that disrespectful? I guess I answered my own question. Yes, they are. While it might be a small segment of the users, it’s still a problem. However, this was only one day. If you want to be involved, contact Wendy Paterson at 716-852-7483. The Shoreline Sweep runs from 10 a.m. to noon.

In another stellar conservation effort worth mentioning, a Facebook page called AE Outdoors Fishing Nerds started a “Nerds Dump of the Month” contest that challenged member anglers to pick up some garbage every time they went out fishing this past January and early February. The effort was started by Greg Schloerb of Amherst after he kept seeing garbage along the creeks where he fished. He turned it into a contest and offered up a dozen of his hand-tied jigs – a lure that certainly works for him time and time again.

It was based around a photo contest using the honor system. Collect the garbage, take a picture and post it on the Nerds’ site. The winner would be randomly drawn from people who posted. However, when it was all said and done, one person posted more than anyone – Saith Shine of Sanborn. Schloerb was so impressed he tied up 25 jigs and gave them to Shine as a prize for all of his hard work. Kudos to all involved. He hopes to coordinate a similar contest this spring.

The next time you take a hike, fish a stream or hunt a forest, take along an extra bag and pick up some trash. If everyone did that, it would definitely make this world a better place to live. And we’d be more willing to share these resources with others and not have to worry about being embarrassed.

Don’t be afraid to pick up that phone and call DEC law enforcement at 844-DEC-ECOS. You can remain anonymous. Take pride in our natural resources.

Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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