PEACEFUL: Beauty of Petit Riviere River – maintained and protected by Matelot.

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Keep camp sites clean this Carnival

By Heather-Dawn Herrera

“We are prepared and ready for the influx of annual campers over Carnival days.” This from the Dorcas Women’s Group of Matelot.
The natural beauty and tranquillity of riversides and beaches in remote but vehicular accessible areas are revered by visitors and local family groups around this time of year. However while sites not serviced by the authorities remain unmonitored during this period, the natural integrity of areas such as Matelot will be protected by the community group.
Spokesperson for the group Myrtle Joseph said that the group will be working over the Carnival season to ensure that the environment along the banks of the river mouth is kept clean and welcoming.
“It has been part of our mandate over the years to conserve the natural environment of our popular visitor destination. Stakeholders working towards the same goals have erected portable facilities and this of course will alleviate the stress on our surroundings. Ample bins are already in place to accommodate discarded items so that the site will remain eco-friendly for all to enjoy.”
Unfortunately, the popular bathing site in the vicinity of the Shark River Bridge cannot be monitored or protected because the group simply cannot stretch its manpower or woman power in this case to cover this area.
Around the Carnival season every year, the raw beauty of Shark River is compromised by campers who come to enjoy the clean and eco-friendly ambience of this one of Trinidad’s most pristine settings. When they leave this area, the eye sore that’s left behind is repulsive. The banks along the entire length of this section of the river are strewn with every type of disposable item imaginable. The stench emanating from the surrounding bushes is unbearable.
The Matelot community and visitors to the area after the Carnival season complain bitterly about the mess left behind but sadly there is no reprieve from this situation in sight. Other areas east of this site where there are regular clean up crews such as CEPEP are returned to their former state of normalcy come Ash Wednesday morning. Regrettably this river mouth is not on the list.
The Spring Bridge area of Blanchisseuse is another accessible camp site that is abused in the same way. The Blanchisseuse community wakes each post Carnival period to be faced with the aftermath of those who had come to enjoy the ‘away from it all’ atmosphere.
According to one retired community member “It is an annual assault on our beautiful coastline. We try to sensitise people about keeping this beautiful river as clean as they meet it but these people do not heed our calls for environmental awareness. We meet a virtual stink when we have to use the area after they leave. The sad thing is nothing is being done to fix this situation.”
The community of Brasso/Paria took the initiative last year in partnership with the Forestry Division to erect facilities along the trail inside the Paria beach forest fringes. This did not work as planned because people along the beach found it easier to use the immediate bushes near their tents. High tides took away the garbage left on the beach but that in the bushes was left behind. Plastic items did not disintegrate of course and the area was deemed high risk to fauna passing through. That community is also pleading for volunteers to help keep this popular beach and its environs clean.
On the eastern end of the coastal trail, there are those in the Matelot community who try to keep the beaches and riversides along this northern strip of coastline in pristine condition. They volunteer their services to maintain the eco-balance of these areas without payment or kind.
This column joins with the affected communities to call for assistance in servicing areas such as Shark River and Blanchisseuse where there is a lack of manpower to protect the natural environment from this annual abuse.
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