Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drug use at Hawksnest

The New York Times reports growing drug use on Cape Cod.  Recent events show drug users are causing litter and fire damage at Hawksnest.

If drug use at Hawksnest isn't stopped, it may lead to break-ins in houses surrounding the park.  Report any campfires you see to the police.  Campfires are illegal in the park and lead to water pollution.

Hash pipe found in campfire at Hawksnest--the "jackknife" they were looking for.

Police Called to Round Cove Rd parking

Late in the evening of July 12, a volunteer patrol noticed a fire in the Round Cove Rd parking area.  Police were called, arrived, and chased two vehicles from the park.

As soon as the police had left, one of the same vehicles returned.  The driver said he was looking for his lost cell phone.   Actually, as we later learned, he was looking for his drug stash, tossed in the woods when the police had arrived.

He left, but soon the other vehicle returned, and began to rekindle the fire.  The police were called again.  This time two police vehicles arrived--they spent much time searching the nearby woods.

The next day, Friends of Hawksnest volunteers were cleaning up the campfire debris.  During this time, two different vehicles arrived, looking for lost "belongings" in the area around the campfire.  One man said he was looking for his "lost jackknife."

All people involved were young men (early 20s?), driving relatively expensive vehicles.

By way of "payback" for reporting the illegal campfires, a group of five young men arrived--they dismantled erosion control work on a nearby trail.  After Friends of Hawksnest left, they dumped the bags of trash that had been gathered (for later pickup) around the parking area.

Fire Dept called to Walker Rd. parking

On the Fourth of July weekend, residents on Walker Rd smelled smoke around 2:00 am.  By 8:00 am, someone called the Fire Department.  When the firemen arrived to put out a large bonfire, the youths around the fire said they didn't start it--they just found it.

When Friends of Hawksnest arrived to clean up the mess, they found flattened cardboard boxes scattered about--which had probably been used for sleeping.  The bonfire had been huge.  Whole downed trees had been dragged onto the fire.  Melted glass and other trash were mixed with the ashes.  Groceries,empty bottles, and cans had been tossed nearby.

Bonfire site in gully leading to the pond--already partly cleaned up.  Note cardboard used for sleeping.

What suggests that drugs were involved was the sheer scale of the fire, and the extreme disorder.  Ordinary campers don't sleep on cardboard boxes.

The problem with campfires

Later, I spoke to a fire control officer for the DCR.  He said that downed wood is accumulating in the area, adding significantly to the danger of wildfires.

A large piles of ashes remained, in the middle of a gully that channels runoff from the access road, down a steep hill and into the pond. 
Ashes are rich in phosphorus, which can seriously damage the pond's water quality.

It's lucky that Friends of Hawksnest cleaned up the bonfire debris--because a few days later, a torrential downpour sent a flood of runoff through the parking area.  Even with the cleanup, swimming on this side of the pond was noticeably polluted with forest debris.

Underwater photo two days after rainstorm.  Soil and forest debris clouds the water.

In the natural state, forest debris and soil would never reach the pond through surface runoff.  Hawksnest has the best water quality of any pond in Harwich.  Erosion and fires in the parking areas must be controlled, if we are to preserve this gem for future generations.

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