By Jan Dean
THE Lynn Valley Trail is now a ‘Pack In / Pack Out’ nature trail because of the increasing amount of garbage left behind by users.
The Lynn Valley Trail became the most used and busiest facility in Norfolk County this spring.
Mark Boerkamp, Norfolk County Supervisor of Trails and Cemeteries says the counters on the trail at the Rotary Bridge and at Prospect Street show a weekly average of 1,500 users.
“That’s more people using the trail than all the arenas in Norfolk County, even when they’re open,” says Mark.
Covid-19 and lockdowns have made the trail an increasingly attractive option for hikers, dog walkers and cyclists.
The 10-kilometre trail on the former CNR rail line joins the business districts of Simcoe and Port Dover.
Trail users pass through woods, wetlands, grassland and farmland along the Lynn River.
They’re attracted to the overhead canopies of green, the old CNR trestle bridges and the natural sights and sounds.
Maintaining the Lynn Valley Trail is about balancing the need to make it more accessible while maintaining its natural aesthetic.
That balancing act is carried out by the Lynn Valley Trail Association with its more than 500 members and the County of Norfolk.
Since the official opening of the Lynn Valley Trail in 1993, the LVTA has upgraded and repaired bridges and the trail surface.
They’ve also added picnic tables and benches and a portable toilet.
The organization has had a lot of help from some absolutely amazing volunteers – like Marvin Dixon.
Years ago Marvin put garbage cans along the trail for the convenience of hikers. And he managed the trash maintenance – emptying and carting away the garbage regularly.
Marvin is retiring from his self-appointed task with the heartfelt gratitude of trail users and stewards.
LVTA President Helen Wagenaar says that Marvin’s retirement has convinced the organization and Mark Boerkamp that it’s time to remove the garbage cans along the trail in a nod to nature.
“We’re keeping the garbage cans at the points of access to the trail, but whatever you ‘Pack in’ you will be responsible to ‘Pack out’,” she says.
The problem is that people have actually been carrying bags of garbage from home and dumping them in or beside the trash cans along the trail.
The trail was never intended as a transfer station for household trash.
The LVTA is still committed to maintaining and upgrading the Lynn Valley Trail’s accessibility and safety, but they need to rely on users to respect the trail and other users.
From now on, trail users will be expected to deal with their own garbage away from the trail – and that includes dog walkers who bag dog poop and leave it behind.
Keeping the Lynn Valley Trail trash-free will ensure that it remains a critical asset to the community.
Originally published June 16, 2021