Monday, August 8, 2011

Why We Are Cleaning Up Hunter's Bay Trail, An Answer To Councilor John Davis.

This morning we put on our work gloves, one pair extra large, one pair small and two pairs of teeny tiny. The whole family was getting ready to participate in our first clean-up which was organized by Danial McCoy, with the Huntsville Environmental Group. The idea was that we would dig out and recycle the plastic shavings that had blown over from KWH's back lot and settled into our beloved Hunter's Bay Trail bank.

Kyle Kralik, Karin Tarizano, Danial McCoy

To say I felt overwhelmed would be an understatement. If the first 20 minutes of raking, it became very obvious that we weren't looking at one foot or so of plastic shavings. There were layers upon layers of it. The tiny roots of plants had grown entangled around them. We had bitten off more than we could chew. The more we dug the more plastic we found. We realized we would have to stop digging due to the threat of washing out the trail. Wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow we rolled the piles out to the parking lot and filled two 60 square foot boxes donated by KWH itself. When we realized we could not dig any further without compromising the bank we dug a small trench and lined it with logs to slow any erosion.

Layers upon Layers, this saplings roots have grown in and around these shavings.

John Davis, Brendan and Rudi Stade

Scott Gilson

Among the members of the Huntsville Environmental Group a few other faces made an appearance, John Davis and Karin Terizano of the Huntsville town council came out to do some digging. Karin got straight to work and helped to fill many wheel barrows. John was shoveling as well, but was obviously conflicted about the trail clean-up. At one point I heard him ask "Why are we even doing this? It's just fine the way it is." He pointed out that the PVC pipes these shavings came from carry our water, he didn't believe the shavings to be a threat. I'm glad he brought these thoughts forward, for I am sure there are many others who believe that plastic formed in 3 inch thick tubes buried below the frost line and not exposed to the hot summers and cold winters of Muskoka leach chemicals at the same rate as these thin shavings do. However, when discussing considerations when disposing of PVC states : " ...attention should be taken to the fact that PVC may leach out toxic chemicals and contaminate soil and water." Lenntech is a respected environmentally friendly water and air filtration system designing company in the Netherlands, and has worked with Shell and the US army. (for those of you who are sceptical of Internet information and where it comes from as I am).

So to answer your question, Councilor John Davis; I can not tell you why all of us were "doing this" but I can tell you why I was. I helped to clean out 120 cubic feet of PVC from a river bank because I was worried about chemicals leaching into the water way my children play in. I sifted through piles of shavings and dirt pulling out organic material with my children to show them that it is our responsibility to clean up the environment. I raked down clumps of plastic knowing that there was no way we could clean it up in one day because I believe that every journey starts with one step, or in the case of the Hunter's Bay clean-up; 5 rakes, 5 shovels and a small group of people who are not scared of a little hard work.