In Maine, we’re fortunate to have vast swaths of forest land that landowners graciously allow others to access for various recreational activities.
Want to hike, or bike, or hunt or fish? Chances are good that when you head afield to take part in those activities, you’re spending time on someone else’s land.
Spend a bit of time in the Maine woods, however, and you’ll quickly realize that not everybody deserves the privilege that those landowners are providing: Backwoods dumping of trash is a huge problem, and it threatens access for everyone else.
On Sunday, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Forest Service will make a dent in that problem as they stage a statewide landowner appreciation cleanup event.
Civic and sporting groups are invited to participate in a cleanup contest, with the groups that collect the most trash earning prizes.
During last year’s cleanup contest, participants picked up more than 100,000 pounds of trash, filling up 30 of the 30-cubic-yard bins that were provided. In all, 90 game wardens and 20 Maine Forest Service staffers supervised the effort, and between 150 and 200 different sites were targeted for trash removal.
At the time, Maine Game Warden Rick LaFlamme, the service’s landowner relations specialist, said that trash would have covered an entire football field with a layer of trash three feet thick.
I tagged along on a cleanup effort in Alton last year, and the variety of trash we found and removed was disheartening. A partial list:
DVD of the TV show “Scrubs”
The sad part: Despite the amount of trash picked up in 2015, crews will have no trouble finding new sites to clean up this year.
If your group would like to take part in this year’s contest, call 287-5240, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chip in if you can.
And remember: Our future access to private land may well depend on it.