| Apr 27, 2016

On April 20, close to 70 enthusiastic volunteers gathered at the boat launch at Deerock Lake near Flinton, armed with gloves and bags, eager to clean up the mess that careless campers left behind over the years.

The lake, which is located in the Elzevir Peatlands Conservations Reserve, is protected under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act and receives the same kind of protection that the local provincial parks do.

The area attracts campers and fishers, and offers 28 picturesque campsites. Most of them are located on small islands, and are free to visitors on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Unfortunately, campers have failed to heed the sign on the road leading to the boat launch that reads: “Please, take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but foot prints.”

The cleanup was initiated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and was also supported by Quinte Conservation, who owns the 60-70 acre parcel of land in and around the boat launch.

They were joined by numerous local groups and organizations, including members of the Conservationists of Frontenac Addington (COFA); the Frontenac Addington Trappers Council; the Township of Addington Highlands as well as staff and students from North Addington Education Centre; and employees from the Milestone Funeral Center in Northbrook.

The event demonstrated how cooperation between like-minded groups can positively impact the natural environment they share. The event was headed up by Justin Punchard, a partnership specialist with the MNRF, who works for the Peterborough district at the Kingston field office.

Punchard instructed and organized the volunteers, who met at the boat launch at 9am and were supplied with a map of the lake, rubber gloves and plastic bags. They then took to their boats and headed out to their designated locations on the lake.

“The goal here today is to clean up all of the campsites and surrounding shoreline to ensure the sustainable use of the site for the future, and to return it back to its natural state,” Punchard said. He said that the group would be collecting mostly household recyclables, like pop cans and pop bottles, but also numerous lawn chairs that were left behind to rot.

Addington Highlands Township provided a large bin and a tri-axle dump truck, the former to collect recyclables and the latter to collect garbage. Both delivered the waste to the Kaladar dumpsite later that day. Toxic materials were also separated and hauled off. Those planning to visit the site this year will no doubt notice a big change.

Terry Murphy, manager of Quinte Conservation, said that the area is a very popular fishing place. “We are hoping that by cleaning up the islands and doing a good public relations job, we'll be able to convince users to keep the lake and the islands clean so we can keep the access to the lake open to the public. We want people to be able to use the area, but we also want people to respect it”, Murphy said.

Wilf Deline, president of the Frontenac Addington Trappers Council, had the same motivation for taking part. “This is our backyard and where we live, so it's important for us to be here today to help, and we just hope that people down the road keep it clean.”

Punchard thanked staff from Quinte Conservation, who he said are key stakeholders, and also thanked all the volunteers and other local resource groups who made the event so successful.

Visitors to the area are required to pay $10 for parking in the summer months, which will be managed by local students, who will also be responsible for educating the public about keeping the area clean. Murphy said that this event is the first massive cleanup of the area and he hopes it won't have to happen again.

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.