Kathy Collier loves Bass Lake. In fact, she loves it so much, she takes her dog Dexter for a run on its dam nearly every single night.
But sometimes the lake’s beauty is tarnished. Every year, Collier has watched as guests to the lake over the July 4th holiday - though a source of celebration and a big boon for area businesses - transform lakeshores and campgrounds into a litter-ridden mess.
“I think one of the worst things people can do is litter like that,” Collier said. “I mean, what kind of message are we giving our children if we trash such a beautiful place? That’s just sad.”
Collier decided to help do something about that. On July 5, in what has become her tradition the last three years, Collier took Dexter out for a jog from The Forks Resort across the dam, picking up garbage along the way.
“It’s really sad to see this happen,” Collier said. “But I just wanted to do my part to help. I don’t do it for recognition, I do it to help keep our area beautiful.”
Collier said she picked up more than 30 bags of trash this year, an increase from 27 last year and far less in 2015. Even worse, she said, she also found two abandoned, dirty barbecues, enough extra trash for four boxes, and a damaged canopy.
“I was surprised at the barbecues, but they were older so they just left them,” Collier said. “It always surprises me at the amount of dirty diapers that I pick up, too.”
Leslie Cox, president of the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce and owner of The Forks Resort, said due to full lake levels there wasn’t a formal program in place to clean up litter this year.
However, she said businesses were doing their part, as free trash bags were handed out by the chamber.
“We as business owners are doing our share of picking up as much as we can, having employees go around to beaches and pick up the trash that people leave,” Cox added. “We do what we can, but people are not very considerate of our forest and our lake, and they leave their trash ... there’s no personal responsibility at all. But we do what we can.”
Luckily enough for Collier, disposing of the trash didn’t cost her anything out of pocket. As a front end manager at Raleys in Oakhurst for 37 years, she said her bosses had no problem letting her toss it all in the market’s dumpster.
And despite the labor of collecting and transporting the litter for disposal, Collier said both she and Dexter enjoyed the work.
“It’s absolutely worth it to me,” Collier said. “We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I want it to stay that way.”