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NROs tackle the problem of dumping

 Top: Natural Resource Officer Craig Gentle. NROs are a recent addition to B.C.’s backcountry enforcement (Arne Petryshen photo).Bottom: The one responsible for dumping an old camper was tracked down and made to clean it up (photo submitted). - Submitted/Arne Petryshen
Top: Natural Resource Officer Craig Gentle. NROs are a recent addition to B.C.’s backcountry enforcement (Arne Petryshen photo).Bottom: The one responsible for dumping an old camper was tracked down and made to clean it up (photo submitted).
— image credit: Submitted/Arne Petryshen

Last week, an old camper fifth-wheel dumped unceremoniously in the backwoods south of Cranbrook was finally cleaned up, and in twist of old fashioned justice, it was the original dumper that did the cleaning.

An article in the Townsman from July 3 documented the dumping of a trailer on Peavine Road. The trailer had recently been given away, so when the person that gave it away saw the old trailer she contacted natural resource officers with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, who launched an investigation.

Craig Gentle, the Natural Resource Officer (NRO) in charge of the investigation said once they talked to the former owner, it didn't take long to track down the man who dumped the camper.

"We caught the person and fines were levied," Gentle said. "We got him to clean it up."

The fines under the Environmental Management Act can be up to $1 million if brought before the court.

The largest sum violation ticket that a natural resource officer can hand out is $575, which he said would be the appropriate fine for something like this.

“The smallest is $150,” he said. “That would be for something like throwing a pop can or chip bag out the window.”

He said the person was cooperative. But it begs the question, why would someone leave their garbage there instead of just bringing the trailer to the dump, where municipal solid waste can be dropped off at no cost?

“I asked him ‘why would you do that?’” he said. “It’s more out of just being lazy, I think, and convenience. It’s just totally disrespectful.”

Gentle said the problem is widespread.

“I see this all the time,” he said. “I’ve had tons of complaints from up in Kimberley where people are taking TVs and tires, burning them and shooting them up then leaving them on the side of the road.”

He said he was even able to catch a couple of kids red-handed bringing a couch to dump and burn.

“It’s ongoing for us,” he said. “We’re spending taxpayers dollars to clean up if we can’t find the person that did it. My goal is to find the person that did it and not have the taxpayer pay a dime.”

For instance, there was a public service day where they cleaned up about seven or eight truckloads of garbage behind the Standard Hill trailer park.

“We find things where it looks like someone’s taken their whole garage and all their belongings and just thrown it on Crown land, like dog kennels and bikes and personal stuff, and just dumped.”

He said NROs and COs are out there watching and there is zero tolerance for this type of thing.

“It’s a constant thing so we appreciate when the public keeps an eye out. We all have something to lose here in beautiful B.C. when everywhere you look there’s a broken fridge and a stove.

The Natural Resource Officers are a newer addition to B.C.’s backcountry enforcement, originating through legislation in 2012. Prior to that they were compliance and enforcement officers, which dealt mainly with tenure holders, logging companies and other Forest Act issues.

“In 2012 it went to the designated Natural Resource Officer that dealt with not just the Forest Act, but also things like the Forest Range and Practices Act, Wildfire Act, Land Act,” he said.

Natural resource officers enforce environmental legislation dealing with water, land and air. On the other hand, Conservation Officers deal with mostly fish and wildlife.

They both have authority to enforce over 46 different acts.

He said lately there’s been a lot of enforcement of the Wildfire Act, to deal with campfires, and the Land Act, which has been dealing with things like squatters on Crown land.

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