A former Sarnia councillor is urging residents to show the local trail system a little love.
People throughout the pandemic have taken to local paths and nature trails in huge numbers, says Mike Kelch, who heads the 18-member Bluewater Trails committee.
But with extra traffic have come unleashed dogs, discarded poop-and-scoop bags and plenty of plain old garbage and litter, he said.
“Please, keep these natural resources safe and pleasant for everyone,” Kelch said. “To put it simply, leave nothing behind but your footprints.”
The Bluewater Trails system in Sarnia and Point Edward connects 15 parks and includes mixed-surface paths under the Blue Water Bridge and through Centennial and Canatara parks.
The crown jewel is the 16-kilometre Howard Watson Trail running through urban Sarnia to Camlachie on a former CN Rail line right-of-way.
Unlike most recreational facilities, Bluewater Trails has stayed open during all lockdowns, Ketch noted.
“Not surprisingly, people really gravitated to the trail system,” he said, speaking from his backyard adjacent the Watson Trail.
In the 25 years he’s lived there he has never seen the trail so busy, he said.
“It’s proven its value, but we do need to take care of it.”
Pets must be leashed. Loose dogs damage sensitive vegetation and there are legal ramifications if an unleashed pet attacks another animal or trail user.
The owner is responsible for disposing of pet droppings. The city doesn’t pick it up.
“When you leave a bag of dog waste sitting on the side of the trail, I don’t know what you’re expecting will happen to it,” Kelch said.
It’s probably a small number of people leaving trash behind, he added, and it’s possible they just don’t know the rules.
Instructions are posted at intervals along the Howard Watson Trail and rules and tips can be found at www.bluewatertrails.com.