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May 10th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 19
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Project Cleanup acknowledges those who keep our region clean
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
Litter can quickly turn a beautiful lookout into an aesthetic displeasure, a harmful pollutant or a hazard to wildlife, and with the warming weather, one has only to look around to catch the unsightly environs being unearthed with the spring snow melt.

To promote conservation, encourage litter cleanup and acknowledge the people who keep our green areas clean, the Crowsnest Outdoors community group is holding a five-month Project Cleanup initiative.

From the beginning of May to the end of September, the public is encouraged to take a photo of themselves picking up garbage that they later dispose of properly and post the photo to the Crowsnest Outdoors Facebook page, ensuring them one ballot into a draw for chance to win a prize.

“It’s about recognizing good behavior and addressing it in a positive way,” says Jonathan Fearns, one of the two group leaders and organizers with Crowsnest Outdoors.

The draw is limited to one ballot per day and at the end of each month, a winner will be drawn to receive a prize. Prizes include merchandise provided by local gear and clothing store Spry and gift certificates to Crowsnest Cafe and Fly Shop in Coleman.

At the very end of the project, all names of those who participated will be entered in a grand prize draw to win an UltrAspire backpack from Spry, or a Patagonia prize from Crowsnest Cafe and Fly Shop.
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Project Cleanup’s purpose goes beyond simply encouraging people to clean up the backcountry and community, says Heather Davis, Crowsnest Outdoors’ second group leader.

“There’s a huge community here that takes pride in the outdoors and they already clean things up, so it’s also to recognize people who already do it. It’s about showing appreciation and letting them know that they’re recognized for doing something good,” she says.

Davis started Crowsnest Outdoors in 2015 with a friend who shortly thereafter moved away from the Pass, leaving her running the organization alone until Fearns, a regular hiker with the group from early on, quickly and eagerly stepped up as a group lead.

“I love hiking, that’s the long story and the short story. I love being able to facilitate people connecting with the outdoors,” he says.

Davis, no stranger to running outdoor clubs in other places she had lived, wanted to create a group where like-minded people could come together and do something they enjoy: getting out there and exploring the back country and mountains together.

“When it was first started, I had recently moved to Crowsnest Pass and I was a little surprised that there was no outdoor club here,” says Davis, who adds that she found it challenging to meet new people. “With all the natural beauty of the area, it was a no-brainer.”
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Davis, a recreational stewardship coordinator for the Backcountry Trail and Flood Rehabilitation Program, and Fearns, a forest officer, both work for Alberta Environment and Parks and bring a wealth of information to hikers on the group outings, from pointing out Old Man’s Beard lichen to explaining proper safety precautions on anything from ticks to using bear spray.

“Safety is our number one concern,” says Davis. “Before we start our hike, we go through hazards and make sure everybody’s on the same page with what’s going on.”

Davis carries a spot unit for out of cell phone service communication, and both she and Fearns are equipped with first aid kits, are proficient in standard first aid, and have completed their 80-hour Wilderness First Aid training.

The group posts photos from their hikes on their Facebook page, which has garnered almost 1,000 likes. But the social aspect goes further than just garnering likes on Facebook.

“Crowsnest Pass has an older demographic and people love watching what we do and where we go,” says Davis. “I think that’s great, just getting people connected to the area and community they live in. That’s one of the things I wasn’t expecting to happen.”

The group welcomes hikers of all skill levels. They’ve held evening hikes, full-day hikes and even overnight hikes of various difficulty levels. Notable outings include summiting Crowsnest Mountain, Sentry Mountain and Turtle Mountain.

They organize outings year-round and in the winter, outings branch out into snowshoeing, cross country skiing and alpine tours.

“When I first started, I envisioned an outdoors club doing multiple things but right now, there’s just not enough people with just Jon and me,” says Davis, adding that the intent would be to add and complement to the already established and existing outdoor groups in the area.

“I don’t want to take away from what’s already out there, but I think it would be really cool to do some overnighter biking trips that’s a little bit different than what UROC does, for example, or even work with them and do a project together,” says Davis.

To further grow and accommodate a diversified variety of activities, Crowsnest Outdoors is welcoming group leads to join the team. Training will be provided, but applicants are expected to have standard first aid certification.

The summer activity schedule can be found on the Crowsnest Outdoors Facebook page or on the website at www.crowsnestoutdoors.com.
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May 10th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 19
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