By Gord Bowes, News staff
For a while after last year’s cleanup, the area around the Devil’s Punchbowl was nearly pristine.
Eventually, however, the garbage started to return.
“It was clean for a long time,” says Greg Lenko, the man behind the volunteer cleanup day. “I was surprised how long it actually stayed clean.
“But then I went back out a month ago and somebody had tossed a couch down there ... That was very disappointing.”
Along with the couch, there are pieces of old wooden rail fence with six-inch spikes sticking out that have been dropped over the side of the escarpment and into the Punchbowl.
It presents a very dangerous situation, notes Lenko, who says he almost impaled his hand on one spike after slipping.
“It’s really disappointing to see whoever took the fence out just tossed it over — and even more disappointing they left the nails in because it is so dangerous.”
Lenko’s interest in cleaning up the city’s waterfalls began when he went to the Devil’s Punchbowl, located east of Centennial Parkway in Stoney Creek, over a year ago and noticed the garbage strewn around the area. He made a video and posted on his Facebook page his intention to organize a cleanup day.
He says he was quickly inundated with offers to help and 75 people ended up coming out to pitch in.
“It was a fluke,” says Lenko. “I thought I might not get anybody and I’ll just go home, but it turned out I got tons of people and they said, ‘What’s next?’
“And they keep saying what’s next so I thought let’s just do the whole thing.”
After the Punchbowl event he held one focusing on Albion and Buttermilk Falls which further showed there is public interest in cleaning the area around the city’s cascades, which each year are becoming a bigger tourist attraction.
Those events, and the fact there is a lot of work still to do, led to Lenko creating The Escarpment Project and a more formal dedication to education and beautification of the city’s waterfalls.
This year’s big cleanup event takes place April 7 starting at 11 a.m at Devil’s Punchbowl, Felker’s Falls, Albion Falls, Buttermilk Falls, Oak Knoll Falls, Chedoke Falls, Ancaster Creek near Power’s Crossing and the old King’s Forest Ski Hill.
A minimum of 185 volunteers are needed — for everything from cleaning up litter, planting trees, running the barbecue, handing out supplies, register people and film the cleanup — to work at the various locations. Lenko says he hopes there will be well in excess of 200.
He is encouraging students to sign up as part of their mandated volunteerism.
Lenko has set up a website at escarpmentproject.ca, where he has details about his initiative and links to videos he has posted showing garbage around the various waterfalls.