HUDSON, Maine — You never know what you’ll find in the woods of Maine. And many times, that’s not a good thing.
“This is your classic Maine bottle dump,” game warden Jim Fahey said on Sunday as he showed the way around a piece of property that’s now owned by the town of Hudson. But calling the place a “bottle dump” did not come close to summing up the extent of the trash that was piled at his feet.
A rubber boot poked up through the debris. Rusted cans were scattered everywhere. And yes, there was plenty of glass, likely the remains of various bottles.
“I don’t know how long this has been here,” Fahey said. “But these items will outlive us all. I mean, it just doesn’t break down.”
On Sunday, the state’s game wardens and forest rangers teamed up to stage the sixth annual Landowner Appreciation Cleanup Day, and volunteers across the state pitched in to help clean up sites where trash has been left in the woods. The goal: Let landowners know that outdoors enthusiasts are willing to help solve the problem of woodland dumping, and that they appreciate the access to land that they do not own themselves.
In Hudson, for the second year in a row, cleanup efforts focused on the site of a former bait farm, where massive fiberglass tanks that used to hold shiners littered the woods, and where styrofoam boxes for holding worms were scattered across the forest floor.
Thanks to the efforts of forest ranger Wes Hatch, who cleared a patch of staghorn sumac away from those bait tanks on Friday, volunteers John Morgan, Ted Perkins and Brian Peirce, all of Hudson, were able to fill bags and bins with the trash they found.
Morgan did have one concern, however.
“Do you think we ought to get a can of that wasp spray before we start cleaning out those tanks?” he asked Fahey before the cleanup began.
As volunteers removed wiring, rubber tubing and lights from the tanks, they were afraid they might upset a few opportunistic insects. Luckily, Fahey said, it wasn’t likely that any mammals had taken up housekeeping in the tanks.
“Since there’s water settled in the bottom of the tanks, that would exclude coons and porcupines from denning there,” Fahey said.
Another measure of the progress: At the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Bangor headquarters building, Warden Kevin Anderson was on hand to supervise those bringing truckloads of trash to a waiting dumpster.
By late Saturday morning, he had only had one truck show up to offload debris.
At the Hudson site, the origin of the materials that need removal is clear. In other locations, it’s harder to tell how the debris got into the woods. Either way, it’s important to remove it, Fahey said.
“It doesn’t matter who did it. When there’s people not respecting the land, I think at some point, it’s human nature that one way to solve that is just to restrict access [to the land] to everybody,” Fahey said. “Unfortunately, that restriction of access has the most adverse effect on the sportsman who was most likely not the original source of the problem.”