Ecotourism at Silver Lake

It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it. I just got really wired up about 15 years ago regarding Kenora’s plan to put a landfill site one ridge away from a pristine trout lake. The result was a satire piece which was published in the Lake of the Woods Enterprise. The editor suggested that I write more columns under the banner Lateral Thinking. So I did.

Even though my annual earnings from writing soared into the five figure range (counting the two after the decimal point) it was always the interaction with readers that encouraged me to continue. People would focus on the hyperbole and point  out how I might have taken it to even more ridiculous extremes or they would glom on to some ridiculous comparison and suggest something even more bizarre. Interaction with readers made it fun. Here, for your reading annoyment, is that first piece which promoted the development of the dump as an adventure tourism attraction by exploiting the natural beauty of the surroundings.

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                                  Ecotourism at Silver Lake   

The opponents of the Silver Lake Landfill site should be down in the dumps. Their resistance is not only pointless, but counterproductive. With modifications and a few enhancements to the design, the site can become a world class destination day trip. Thoughtful development will not only solve our solid waste problem but provide recreational benefits and economic opportunity as well. Civic leaders from across the continent will pour in to learn how to benefit from landfill sites in their most pristine environments. It’s so obvious that I can’t understand why we didn’t see it sooner. Get WHACKO* out of the way. Get LOWBIC involved. Develop a business plan.

Just add a parking lot to the site and cut a few short hiking and biking trails and we’ve got it made. Once the trails are in place,you will be able to stroll a couple hundred metres downhill from the landfill site and be right on the shore of beautiful Crystal Bay.  You might want to stop along the way to fill your canteen with some of that beautiful chemically enhanced spring water that’s flowing out of the hillside into Crystal Bay.

If you’re a fitness freak you will have carried your canoe and fishing gear along with you to and enjoy a little trout or muskie fishing. The scare-mongering talk  about leachate in the food  chain will add incentive to be a true conservationist and release your catch to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Your desire to preserve the area’s delicate ecology  will be satisfied by picking up some of the thousands of plastic bags which will have littered the forest and shoreline during a storm. Fortunately you will have brought along your snorkelling equipment retrieve the ones that  sink too far out to be reached by wading. The scuba divers enjoying that deep water paradise will have increased raison d’etre as they go after the deep ones. The multi-hued bags that get missed, perhaps because they are too high in the trees, will add even more colour to nature’s splendour.You will also enjoy the sight and sound of thousands of seagulls and ravens which could not normally inhabit such a nutrient-poor environment but are there thanks to the magnificent bounty of the dump. Fortunately, they are now adding nutrient to the lake and it may one day be able to add a beautiful algal bloom to its list of wonders.

A hiking trail in the opposite direction will take you to Morgan Falls, just a little over a kilometre from the machines toiling to bury the newly arrived trash. This spot is beautiful and has long been a favourite with locals wishing to have a peaceful picnic lunch, frolic in the waterfall, commune with nature, and do a little fishing. The roar of the falls will drown out the sound of garbage trucks as they thunder by. You will be thankful for the dump’s new location as you realize that the special of the week – free tipping fees with purchase of a trail pass –  motivated your visit to this scenic location.

Another branch of the hiking trail will take you to Crystal Falls,just across the bay from the dump.This is a little known local gem….a magical place  where the Black Sturgeon River drops from Crystal Bay, through a beautiful cedar glen, into the Black Sturgeon Lakes in a series of rapids, cascades and ponds. With delight you will realize that your chance of seeing a bear is greatly enhanced by the attraction of the nearby wildlife feeding station. Fortunately most of the machine noise from the dump just across the Bay will be muffled by the rushing sound of the water.

Vernon Trails- forget that- too limited! You will head for the Silver Lake Landfill Nature Preserve where a guided nature walk will point out all the ways in which a properly managed landfill site can enhance  the natural environment. Just pack your lunch and a bag of garbage from home. If you  don’t have your own bag of trash, borrow one from a friend and replace it later. Silver Lake…it’s worth the trip.

Unfortunately, opposition to the site is mounting and alternatives may have to be considered. A possible alternative would be the  Rushing River area. It’s  just as pretty and the necessary  trails, parking lot, and other infrastructure are  already in place. Of course, we  would have to place the garbage  one hill back from Rushing River to preserve the water quality.

As concerned citizens we need to be vigilant. This fantastic recreational  and economic opportunity may be snatched from us by such meddlers as Mayor Dave Canfield and the WHACKOs* whose faulty logic leads them to think that we should squander our solid waste resources by recycling them. That’s the wave of the future they say. Help to preserve the past. Make your support for the Silver Lake Landfill site known and insist that your tax dollars spent on studying the site do not go to waste. A disastrous scenario could unfold in which the community would realize that there is still lots of room at the East Highway landfill site. Worse yet, they might realize that it’s a dry site where leachate is much less of a concern and that this site is working well and is far cheaper to operate and far more convenient than the Silver Lake site.  Pressure on the bureaucrats at the Ministry of the Environment might lead them to approve continued use the old site. If that happens the economic and environmental bonanza of the Silver lake site will slip away from us, perhaps forever.

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*Wilderness Heritage and Community Keepers Organization was an environmental group formed largely in response to the Silver Lake issue and named in response to the Mayor’s statement that environmentalists were a bunch of whackos.

 

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