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Posted: September 30, 2021

Volunteers dive into annual Elk River shoreline cleanup

Last Sunday, on World Rivers Day, almost 100 volunteers gathered on a sunny fall morning to show their love for the Elk River by thoroughly cleaning the shorelines. In total, 48 trash bags were collected.

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.

“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 cleanup is an annual event, but was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic last year. This year, with masks and hand sanitizer at hand, people felt more ready to gather outside.

“The cleanup was a great way to help lessen our impacts on this beautiful place we call home,” said Alex McClymont, a Fernie volunteer, “and it was wonderful to see so many people show up!”

The five most common items collected were cigarette butts, beverage cans, plastic pieces, food wrappers and plastic bags. However, plenty of car parts, scrap metal, diapers, straws, clothes, and masks were also found.

“An encouraging thing I heard a few times was that people had trouble finding trash in some places,” said Evgeni Matveev, an ERA staff member, “I guess when you clean the shoreline year after year, you really start to see a difference.”

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.

“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

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.

Photos submitted

Elk River Alliance

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