The Elk River Alliance (ERA) is reporting that 48 bags of trash were collected during this year’s annual Elk River Cleanup.
Last Sunday, on World Rivers Day, close to 100 volunteers gathered to show their love for the Elk River by cleaning up the shorelines, the ERA said in a press release.
The Elk River Alliance organized their recent cleanup in three locations throughout the Elk Valley: Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford. In addition to town locations, sites throughout the watershed were cleaned, including Michel Creek, Morissey, Silver Springs and Hosmer, the ERA said.
“First of all, shoreline trash doesn’t look great,” said Chad Hughes, ERA executive director. “But more than that, when pollution pressure is combined with other stressors, it can permanently damage the ecosystem.”
The top five items cleaned off the shores included 378 cigarette butts, 365 beverage cans, 314 pieces of plastic, 253 food wrappers, and 214 plastic bags.
Other things collected included car parts, scrap metal, straws, clothing and masks.
The ERA says that the strangest things found on the shore were a dead mouse inside of a bottle, an iPod nano, a full pack of Pampers (diapers) and bear poop with garbage in it.
Last year’s event was hampered by COVID-19, so this year the ERA was excited to be able to complete the cleanup – with masks and hand sanitizer on deck.
“The cleanup was a great way to help lessen our impacts on this beautiful place we call home,” said Alex McClymont, a Fernie volunteer. “It was wonderful to see so many people show up.”
ERA staff member Evgeni Mateev explained that it was encouraging to see that people sometimes had trouble finding trash in certain areas.
“I guess when you clean the shoreline year after year, you really start to see a difference,” said Mateev.
The shoreline cleanup will happen again next year, and ERA is hoping for an even bigger turnout. But for now, ERA encourages residents to get involved with their other projects, they said.
“In October we are doing a big push to restore the Hosmer wetland, which was converted to a gravel pit,” said Hughes. “We are recruiting volunteers to plant wetland species like sedges and rushes, as well as native plants to keep the wetland banks from eroding.”
To keep up with ERA activities you can follow them on Facebook, or sign up to volunteer on their website www.elkriveralliance.ca.
In addition to all the volunteers, Elk River Alliance would like to thank GearHub sports, Patagonia, Eldho’s Independent Food Grocer, and Save-on-Foods for sponsoring the shoreline cleanup by providing prizes and refreshments.