Nearly 200kg of rubbish has been removed from the banks of the Elk River by volunteers over the weekend.
The Elk River Alliance hosted three shoreline cleanups in the Valley on Sunday, September 30 as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a national conservation program that aims to protect waterways and wildlife.
ERA Water and Education Program Manager Ayla Bennett said numbers were lower than in previous years due to the cold weather and snow, with 40 people pitching in across the three events.
However, they worked together to collect approximately 181kg (400lbs) of rubbish from the banks of the Elk River in Fernie, Elkford and Sparwood.
Girls Guides were among 28 volunteers at the Fernie cleanup.
“We do some activities that teach the girls about environmental responsibility,” said Unit Guider Jessica Ward.
“On our walk we’re going to do a bit of work about learning the importance of recycling and reusing as part of it, talk about the different types of items that we find and how they can affect nature, and the environment in different ways, so it’s a learning opportunity for them as well as getting outdoors and working as a team and supporting their community.”
Cigarette butts were the most common item found by volunteers.
Bennett said cigarette butts are extremely toxic to aquatic health and the ERA will continue to host cleanups, adding other sites as recommended by this year’s volunteers.
“We will continue to encourage ongoing stewardship efforts from community, including restoration and habitat enhancement projects,” she said.
“We also strive to use education in order to increase watershed literacy, so people recognize the importance of aquatic health in the Elk River watershed.”