Bags of garbage and tents found at Ojibway Prairie Complex during cleanup

The cleanup at Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve revealed bags of garbage and illegal campsites.

'It was over 230 kilos of waste,' says environmental group

Jordan Dertinger (left) and Ben Eisner, are interns with Wildlife Preservation Canada. They are posing with bags of garbage they removed from the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Park Nature Reserve. (Wildlife Preservation Canada photo)

When members of Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) conducted a cleanup of the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve in west Windsor a few weeks ago, they got a lot more than they bargained for.

They stumbled upon mounds of garbage, mangled and torn sleeping bags and abandoned tents, across more than "ten different illegal campsites at the park," according to a news release from the Guelph-based charity, devoted to saving endangered animal species.

WPC is particularly concerned about the well-being of the massasauga rattlesnake, butler's gartersnake and eastern foxsnake.

"We definitely want Windsorites and people around Essex County to have respect for the nature preserve," said Jonathan Choquette, WPC's lead biologist based in Windsor.

"It's our only provincial park in the city, not to treat it like a dumpsite."

Choquette said they pulled several bags full of garbage from the environmentally-sensitive area.

"It was over 230 kilos of waste. Most of it went to landfill. There was some that we were able to recycle," he said.

An intern with Wildlife Preservation Canada hauls garbage out of the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve off Matchette Road. (Wildlife Preservation Canada photo)

Nancy Pancheshan, of the group Save Ojibway, said this is another challenge facing the nature reserve.

"We're up to 22 endangered and threatened species that live in Ojibway," said Pancheshan, adding that even cleanups can hurt the sensitive area.

She would like to see Matchette Road closed between Titcombe Road, which is the entrance to the reserve, and Sprucewood Avenue to further protect the area.

"We could have our own Bruce Trail here," she said.

Pancheshan said it should be up to Windsor police to patrol the area to prevent overnight campers and dumpers. A sign that reads "No Dumping" is posted at the entrance at Titcombe Road.

CBC News contacted Ontario Parks which oversees the park. A request for an interview has been forwarded to media relations for approval.


Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.