700 kg old flood debris found in Grand Lake area forest Pipa News

Pipa News |

Carolyn Blakely and 13 other volunteers found a fridge about 300 meters deep in the woods west of Grand Lake with children’s toys, fishing poles, roof, water heater and wood.

The waste was likely from floods in 2018 and 2019, where unprecedented water levels destroyed homes and displaced more than 1,100 residents along the St. John River and surrounding lakes.

Some residents claimed the changed objects, called the Keyhole property, were cleaned up by the Nature Conservancy of Canada over the weekend, behind Princess Park. The rest were taken to landfills.

The Bhoomi Trust had recently acquired the 173-acre property and wanted to clear the debris that had been swept along the coast or scattered in the forest during the floods.

The land is also home to rare bur oak trees and marshlands. There are only eight known populations of bur oaks remaining in New Brunswick.

Blakely, one of the lead organizers of the cleanup, said, “So we really want to make sure the trees have the best environment to grow and thrive on our property.”

This particular area is only one of two protected bur oak groves in the wild, said Aaron Dowding, New Brunswick stewardship manager of the Canada Nature Conservancy.

“We have lost a lot of what we had and what we have. Some of the trees are 400 years old and a truly unique floodplain,” he said. Shift New Brunswick,

The cleanup took place at the Nature Conservancy’s Keyhole property, west of Grand Lake, near Princess Park. (Submitted by Mike Dembeck)

He said that the marshy land is also important in the area, especially in the area which is prone to floods.

“It allows that land to act like a sponge and retain some of the water that would normally submerge the developed property. So it’s really important to keep them.”

Volunteer Gloria Baylor is originally from Nova Scotia, but has a cottage in the area and has a passion for helping preserve nature in that area.

“It was so exciting for me to be involved in, you know, helping to preserve it and clean it up. It’s fun to be a part of what you have in your backyard.”

To prepare for the cleanup, a team of trainees from Canada’s Nature Conservancy used a mapping system to coordinate pieces of trash already on the map to place points on the map to make it easier for volunteers to know where they can help.

Blakely said one of the reasons she helped organize the cleanup was that she knew how damaging the floods were in 2018 and 2019.

“I think especially where we were letting people take whatever they wanted, it was a big part of getting some people excited to find things or even those things. It was nice to see his ability to find what the flood could have had him.”

Blakely said photos of her and the roof of her cottage have been lost in the floods, so every year she takes extra precautions.

“Every fall we go and we take down all the pictures and everything, the really sentimental stuff, because I mean, you can always replace the furniture, but you can’t replace some pictures and memories.”

Canada’s Nature Conservancy plans to do another cleanup next summer to pick up the rest of the waste.

“There’s still a lot to do. So many things to remove, some big things that aren’t in the wild,” Blakely said.


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