Friday April 22, 2011

Earth Day

One Hail Of A River Clean Up

Volunteers collect 6.58 tonnes of waste at Peg Leg despite inclement weather

Submitted by Mary Woodbury, FRK


Volunteers take a break and warm up at Peg Leg for the river clean up.


n April 17th, Fraser Riverkeeper joined Woodtone, Andy Rotzetter, the City of Chilliwack, and the community in cleaning up the Pegleg Bar in Chilliwack, in celebration of Earth Day. This was our fourth annual cleanup on the bar.

We want to thank everyone for showing up in the rain, hail, and cold — with great spirits — to make this event a success! In particular, we want to thank Woodtone for their wonderful community initiatives such as the annual Pegleg Bar Cleanup and for partnering with Fraser Riverkeeper each year to organize the event.

Much thanks go to Andy Rotzetter for his organization of the bins and other tools needed to get the waste moved from the bar over to the city landfill. Also, we wish to thank the City of Chilliwack for supporting this event and providing a free tipping permit. Thanks also to the Preserved Seed Cafe, Save On Foods, Chilliwack Water Store, BFI Canada, Fortin’s Hardware, Valley Tank, and United Rentals for providing in-kind donations. Fraser Riverkeeper staff and volunteers, Woodtone employees, and many others in the community were all very helpful in getting this bar cleaned up.

Our appreciation also goes out to Isabelle Aube for providing the photographs, and Craig Hill of the Chilliwack Valley Voice for maintaining a media outlet for this event and our other work on the river.

Andy Rotz Disposal reported a total of 6.58 tonnes of waste collected, .73 tonnes of that being scrap metals. This brings our total 4-year waste collection to about 26 and 1/2 tonnes. Imagine every gravel bar along the Mighty Fraser with that much waste and how all of us could work together to prevent litter, dumping, spills, and other waste from entering our water.

Pegleg Bar itself is a spawning area for chum salmon, which prefer the coarse gravels found in this area of the river. Redds have been identified at several areas around the perimeter of the Bar, and there may have been redds in Minto Channel and elsewhere in the watered areas of the Bar.

Garbage left behind in the river can have immediate consequences for wildlife, such as entanglement in or ingestion of plastics, Styrofoam, fishing line, etc. Even small spills of oil and fuel can pollute vast amounts of water and interfere with the hatching of insects vital to the health of the river.

In the larger context, garbage left in the river can be washed out to sea, where it has particularly nasty consequences for wildlife. Some of the long-lasting plastics break down into tiny particles and end up in the stomachs of birds and animals, or are ingested by smaller organisms. Plastics can also absorb some organic pollutants from the water, such as PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. These may be immediately toxic to wildlife, but they can also cause hormone disruption with long-term implications for reproductive success. Organic pollutants can bio-accumulate and be passed up the food chain to human consumers of seafood.

Both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans now contain huge, floating masses of debris, carried and concentrated by ocean currents into patches known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the Great Atlantic Garbage Patch.

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