Scott Benesh and Bob Schulli are both landowners at their wits end.
They both own land on Rialto Rd., out near the unauthorized shooting range/garbage dump reported in the November 19 edition of Castlegar News, and have been battling to keep people from dumping garbage on their properties.
Benesh lives across from the unauthorized shooting range, while Schulli owns the land on either side of the beginning of Rialto Rd. but doesn’t live there.
The rifle and pistol ranges run by the Castlegar and District Wildlife Association and the Castlegar Rifle Club is on Schulli’s land and he leases it to them for free. Since he isn’t out at his lot all the time, he has an agreement with Benesh to take care of it for him.
Benesh spends a lot of his time cleaning up garbage that’s been dumped on both properties. Everything from yard waste to a boat.
Some people Benesh has caught dumping yard waste have made the argument that everything they’re dumping is biodegradable and therefore not a big deal, but Benesh argues that often scraps of real garbage get caught up in leaves and grass clippings. It also encourages others to think of that spot as a place for dumping.
“You’re setting a precedent for that to be a garbage dump, and I see it everywhere. I get it all cleaned up and someone drops one load of leaves, or one load of yard clippings, and immediately the next guy thinks it’s a garbage dump,” says Benesh.
Even if people are just dumping yard waste, it’s still private property.
Benesh has tried explaining to people that they are dumping on his property, that what they are doing is really no different than if he brought his yard waste and tossed it into their backyard.
Benesh bought his property because he likes being outdoors and wants to be able to enjoy it.
“I like to shed hunt for deer, antlers and elk antlers. It’s important to me; I like to recreate. It’s why I bought there, it was one of my favourite parts of Castlegar. My family all hunt. My family all snowshoe. They ski. We snowmobile from the house,” he says.
He’d like to spend more time enjoying the property for the reasons he bought it, and less time picking up other people’s garbage and chasing them off.
Both men are upset that anyone would dump into the environment, outside a designated garbage dump.
“It’s just a lot of the mentality of the people in general, shooting or not, to bring out garbage and dump it because they don’t want to go to the dump, pay the $5 or whatever it might be,” says Schulli.
The land is also surrounded by wildlife corridors and a bird sanctuary.
Benesh and Schulli have tried putting up no trespassing signs and trail cameras, but they’ve been vandalized on several occasions.
“They blatantly rip them down, shoot them down, you know, kind of to slap you in the face,” says Schulli.
“They destroy them,” adds Benesh.
Benesh does catch people on the cameras, but he rarely catches the same person twice, which he credits to his policy of contacting trespassers discreetly by Facebook, and threatening to publish their identities publicly only if they trespass again.
He’s had some help from the conservation officer and RCMP, and appreciates conservation officer Ben Beetlestone’s help in particular.
“We really have a great member there in our community that’s looking out for people,” says Benesh.
The problem has improved somewhat over the years, but Benesh has to keep on it constantly.
“You can’t get complacent because it would regress noticeably right away,” said Schulli.
Ideally, both men would like to see the public respect their private property.