By Julia Pepler
Last Saturday we held the 12th Annual Fraser River Cleanup with Woodtone on the banks of the Fraser River in Chilliwack, our biggest cleanup to date. Thanks to the help of 700 hard-working volunteers we removed 6.5 tonnes of garbage, bringing our total over the past 12 years to 130 tonnes of garbage removed from the Fraser River and its watershed. That’s equivalent to the weight of 98 grizzly bears!
Folks from all over the Fraser Valley came to scour the banks and trails along the river and remove illegally dumped garbage before it washed further down the river and into the ocean. Chilliwack locals and various sponsors who brought heavy machinery allowed us to remove bigger items such as bed-springs and a truck canopy. This year's most notable item was a short-barrel shotgun found along a nearby trail.
After the cleanup, we devoured a delicious lunch provided by Restaurant 62 that left us full and feeling good. We also held a draw with prizes from our sponsors to show appreciation for the dedicated volunteers.
This year we were honoured to present the Andy Rotzetter Memorial Award to Nikki Rekman for her hard work as the president of the Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society. Nikki has been dedicated to the health of our waterways and ensuring that they can be enjoyed by all.
Ocean Ambassadors Canada (OAC) and Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) hosted tables to share important information on water issues and initiatives in the area. OAC helped us understand how we pollute water and provided tools to prevent microplastics from entering water bodies. WPC brought along a Western Painted Turtle, an endangered species that is being reintroduced to the area. This was a great way for us to get familiar with the species and build a stronger connection to it and its habitat.
The Fraser River, which runs through the heart of western BC, plays an important role in the health and abundance of wildlife that depends on clean water to survive. Cleanups such as this help to ensure that toxic chemicals, dumped garbage, and plastics that are breaking down into micro-plastics go no further down the river. This event not only helps clean up what has been discarded but also raises awareness to stop illegal dumping on the Fraser River and beyond. If you would like to learn more about how to report illegal dumping, click here.
As always, we are incredibly grateful to the team at Woodtone that worked tirelessly to pull together such a successful event. We look forward to this cleanup every year and we are so glad to see how much it has grown and connected the community and ecosystem. Share your cleanup photos and stories with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Thank you to our generous sponsors: Kal Tire, Chilliwack Minor Baseball, Cabela’s, Restaurant 62, Gordon Food Service, Timbro Contracting, City of Chilliwack, Chilliwack Water Store, Ocean Ambassadors Canada, Bio Central, Great River Fishing, The Home Depot, Inner Vision Yoga, Eastern Valley Toilets, Wildlife Preservation Canada, Glad, Big K Clothing, Fraser Valley Salmon Society, Envision Financial, Chilliwack Bottle Depot, First Class Waste/Alpine Valley Disposal, Starbucks Coffee, HUB International, Woodtone, and Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.