April 11, 2012


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Sometimes it just takes a little (or maybe a lot) of nudging to get people to do something that needs to be done.
Take for instance the issue of who is finally going to break down and tackle cleaning up all the unsightly trash that is lying in the road ditches around McKenzie County. We all know that the trash that has accumulated over the past fall and winter is not only a “black eye” to the people who live here, but it is also not the way that we want to present our communities to the summer vacationers who will soon be traveling through the area. The huge mounds of trash have been the talk of the area for months. It’s been the subject of newspaper articles and “Letters to the Editor.”  
But as they say, talk is cheap. There was a lot of talk about the problem, but other than a few groups who tackled small sections of particular roadways, there was no one stepping forward to say, “Enough is enough. We’re going to get it done.”
Or at least that was until a couple of weeks ago when three Watford City area ladies finally decided to take the bull by the horn and do something about all of the trash.
And thanks to their efforts, the “Pick Up the Patch” campaign to rid our countryside of all this trash will finally come to fruition. So this Saturday, April 14, the good folks of Watford City are going to come together and spend the better part of the day cleaning  up the litter-strewn road ditches.
The organizers of the “Pick Up the Patch” have issued the challenge for area residents to form teams and turn the day into a challenge event with groups competing to see who can pick up the most trash.
No doubt there will be a good showing of local civic clubs, church groups and other individuals from throughout Watford City who always are willing to lend a hand for these types of events. But the one group that really needs to step up to the plate and become a real part of this community-wide cleanup effort is all of the oilfield companies and the related oilfield service companies that are working in and around the Watford City.
While it may be wrong to say that all of the garbage that has been thrown into the road ditches has come from oilfield workers, there is no doubt that it is the public’s perception that the vast majority of the garbage has come from those workers. And again, if you follow the stories in the media of the garbage sacks full of human excrement and jugs of urine that are in the ditches, you can draw your own conclusion as to who is using the ditches in this area as garbage pits.
Yes, there are oilfield companies (Missouri Basin Well Service, Power Fuels and Baker Petrolite to name three), as well as the North Dakota Petroleum Council who have already signed up to be part of Saturday’s cleanup activities. But what about all of the other companies that are doing business in the Watford City area and have crews driving up and down the roadways? Is it any harder for them to ask their employees to volunteer their time to help make our ditches clean again than it is any other Watford City business.
As I have said before, everyone who now calls the Watford City area home, be it the longtime resident, the pipeline worker, the truck driver, or the oilfield executive, has a responsibility to help keep this part of the country clean and free of unsightly litter.
And part of that responsibility starts on Saturday when everyone pitches in to “Pick Up the Patch.”