One man is on a mission to clean up one of Nanaimo’s most popular recreation areas.
Since May 22, Douglas Wortley, a 24-year-old Vancouver Island University geology student, has spent 20 days with a rake and shovel scraping up broken glass, dumped trash and spent shotgun shells from a patch of land known as Cadillac Flats, located in the Doumont recreation area.
Wortley, an avid mountain biker, calls his one-man effort the Doumont Restoration Project.
His tidying up has spread to nearby clearings and trails and he has also placed posters on trees to promote maintaining cleanliness in the area.
So far, Wortley said, there has been no new dumping in the areas he has cleaned, but he could use as much volunteer help as he can muster.
“I guess I’m, like, the project coordinator,” Wortley said. “It’s pretty much just me and I take on volunteers.”
Wortley has had up to 14 people work with him, but is planning some larger cleanups, including one Aug. 24 with the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club.
“They want to have all their members come out, so that will be a huge turnout,” Wortley said.
There have been multiple trash removal operations in the area organized by local clubs over the years, usually lasting a day or a weekend, but before long the area is quickly blighted with illegally dumped trash that includes garden waste and household garbage, construction materials and even abandoned vehicles.
This is the first time someone has made a sustained cleaning effort, although Wortley’s original intent was to do a research project in the area that could tie in with his VIU studies.
“After a while I realized there’s not a lot of research to be done,” Wortley said. “There’s just a lot of trash to be picked up, so I kind of moved away from that and tried to get anybody who either hates garbage or loves nature to come on board.”
Wortley has co-ordinated with user groups and said he also received a $500 donation to support his efforts from Island Timberlands.
Bill McMillan, Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club spokesman, said Wortley’s project is the most thorough cleaning of the area he has seen.
“He’s gone up there and actually raked up reams of shotgun shells,” McMillan said. “Doug has kind of hit the nail on the head with his theory that, if an outdoor area is cleaned up to look pristine then that first person tempted to dump stuff out their window or leave their trash there is going to find it a lot more difficult. It’s going to be interesting to see how this goes and he’s done a phenomenal job.”
To learn more about the Doumont Restoration Project, please visit the project Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DoumontRestorationProject.