By Doug Bush,
Tygart District Soil Supervisor
Growing up in rural Upshur County, we did some things that are not acceptable today. One common practice was how we got rid of our household trash. We had a barrel in our backyard and we burned it. Being the oldest son, it was my job to take the trash to the infamous burn barrel to discard. I always avoided this chore and had to be constantly reminded to do it. One pitch black dark night, I stumbled down the familiar path to the burn barrel. In the darkness I could just make out the faint silhouette of the burn barrel. Setting the trash on the ever over-flowing barrel, I felt around in my pocket for a match. I lit the match, reaching forward toward the barrel just to see an open mouthed, hissing opossum showing its teeth. I ran screaming to the house promising to never burn the trash after dark again.
Today, laws restrict the burning of trash and littering. I have become personally passionate about efforts to stop littering and to encourage recycling. I believe this passion comes from my love of our state and my constant efforts of cleaning up after others. Our state and its citizens spend thousands of dollars to clean-up litter. Litter negatively affects so much of our lives. Litter pollutes our air, water and streams. Fish and wildlife are harmed by litter. A state where so many claim to be sportsman to turn and pollute what they love so much seems senseless. Littering reflects poorly on us to those who want to move here or who have come to visit. It leaves our children and grandchildren problems from our lack of personal responsibility.
The soil conservation has taken steps in efforts to attack pollution. Efforts include education, recycling, clean-ups and technical assistance. The Solid Waste Authority in each county assists as well. The Solid Waste Authority is comprised of appointees from the respected county commissions, DEP, Soil Districts and the Public Service Commission. The biggest efforts however need to come from us, the public.
My Grandfather, Lt W.P. Shaver, was one of the first Conservation officers hired after WWII. He loved his state and its people. He enjoyed nature and spent his life protecting it. His love of nature encouraged mine. As a Conservation officer he spent much time education the public, especially children, on the problems associated with polluting. I dedicate this month’s article to his efforts and his memory.