A lifelong Lorneville resident has spent the past three years building a seaside hiking trail in her community, hoping to put an end to an ugly trend of illegal dumping in the area.
Leah Alexander, 25, said the dumping used to happen at nearby Black Beach — until the installation of a trail that increased foot traffic to and from the community.
"Over the years I've noticed that since that trail's been put in, the garbage has seemed to decrease. We're attracting a different crowd now," she said.
"I'm kind of hoping that this area, if I can clean it up a little bit and make a nice trail, maybe we can attract a different crowd and get rid of all the garbage that's been dumped here."
Alexander said people are less likely to dump materials like old tires and used mattresses and start fires if bird watchers are near.
Her trail is approximately five kilometres long but she's working towards adding another three kilometres.
Alexander's trail also connects to another path she believes was previously commissioned by NB Power.
A battle against pollution
The newly christened Split Rock Trail, named for a rock off the coast visible at the halfway mark, was originally just an adventure to explore the local scenery that evolved into a battle against pollution, Alexander said.
"One day I thought I'd try to make it to the lighthouse through the woods. It was the middle of the summer and I was ill-prepared," she said. "I was in shorts and got a ton of scratches but I just couldn't believe the beauty."
"I kept thinking, 'Nobody sees this because there's so much undergrowth.'"
Alexander has contacted the provincial government and received its blessing for the work, she said.
"I've had only, 'What can we do to help you?'"
A one woman army
While she's received help recently from her brother and a friend, for the majority of the project, it's just been her: a one woman army trailblazing with clippers, her dog and a small chainsaw. She's been careful not to cut too deep and take away from the natural beauty of the area.
"I've received no funding. It's just been me, my equipment and my dog," she said, with a pat for her chocolate lab, Cash.
"He's been my sidekick along the way," she said, laughing.
She hasn't seen less garbage near the trail yet, she said, but that's likely in part because the path isn't marked by a sign or advertised.
You'd have to know about its location in order to hike it.
"I'm hoping if I add a trailhead sign … if there are three or four cars parked here, people doing a hike, I don't think anyone will start a fire."