Trash Patrol – Williams Lake Division
By: Cathy Vaughan, Williams Lake, January, 2021
What do a fishing pole, pop cans and vodka have in common? Weekend fishing excursion on Williams Lake? Marinade for your freshly caught, pan-fried trout? Unfortunately, it’s all garbage.
Leslie Randall and Philip Howard discovered an assortment of garbage along the shores of Williams Lake as they paddle their kayaks into hidden coves and around the many islands that dot the popular urban lake. One of their great pleasures is to paddle the lake and search for signs of recent beaver activity, a chewed off tree trunk along the forest banks. They quietly float near the mud flats observing the blue herons seeking their next tasty morsel. They watch for the loons, diving for their daily feed of fish.
In this tranquil scene, what surprises them the most is the amount of garbage they collect from the lake’s shoreline. “Williams Lake is a thriving, natural ecosystem and there is no place in it for human waste like plastic cups, foil wrapper, metal cans, coffee cups and vodka bottles,” says Leslie. “We both believe in the concept of leaving no trace,” says Philip.
Both garbage hunters are members of the Williams Lake Conservation Company (WLCC,) a volunteer group that has been caretakers of the lake for more than 50 years. Besides the Trash Patrol duties, Leslie is the Recording Secretary and Philip is WebMaster with WLCC. Through their experience, working with WLCC’s knowledgeable folks (a scientist, biologist, urban planner, professor, lawyer and even a retired deputy minister) they recognize how fragile the environment is.
“Birds and animals may attempt to swallow the garbage or become trapped by the plastic or discarded fishing lines. It’s this image that keeps us patrolling the shoreline for litter,” says Philip.
Leslie and Philip would be pleased to return from their garbage patrols empty handed. “Leave only footprints, take only pictures,” says Leslie.