A treasure hidden in the ravines

Lizzy Balboa

While some students take their summer adventures “Out West” or “Up North,” others resolve to appreciate the local forestry and wildlife scene of Allendale.
he ravines behind South Apartments provide a less expensive alternative to a weekend camping trip or hiking expedition. But less expensive doesn’t mean less scenic.

Those daring enough to brave the hidden trails overgrown with poison ivy and fallen trees will likely stumble upon some not-so-hidden treasures—pre-GVSU household appliances, old car frames and the like.

Ken Stanton from Facilities Services said the spot used to serve as the old Allendale dump before GVSU acquired the land. The township left the metal scraps on the university’s property and has not since made efforts to remove them.

Steve Snell, GVSU arborist with Facilities Services, said he’s not sure how long the dump has been in the ravines, but he knows that it preceded a supervisor who started working 43 years ago.
Snell said the university does not currently contribute to the trash pile, but he’s not sure whether it has in the past.

Still, the university engages in cleanup efforts to restore the ravines to its natural state.
“For about 3 to 4 years in a row, we had a fraternity who volunteered to clean the place up,” Snell said. “Facilities Services place out there a dumpster for metal and a couple of barrels for glass. Tires they found were piled up, and Facilities Services collected them and took them to recycling. Currently, some of the material still there is too far down the ravine to be safe for a volunteer group to retrieve. Also, the stuff that is within reach is partially imbedded in the side of the hill. Removing this imbedded stuff will cause more harm than good, because it will expose the soil to erosion.”

At this point, the dumpsite has not caused any environmental threats, Snell said.
“In the very beginning, we had the soil tested for hazardous substances and found none,” he said. “At that point, we deemed it safe for volunteer groups to proceed with cleaning some of the site up.”
Snell said he’s not sure if the university has ever requested help from Allendale to remove the town’s former dump.

“At this point and with the amount removed (4 dumpsters full of metal, 5 barrels of glass, and 25 tires), it is low priority,” he said.