There is no time like the present to help keep the Cowichan River clean and pristine for all to enjoy.
The Cowichan Lake and River Stewards Fourth Annual Cowichan River Cleanup is fast approaching. Starting on Saturday, August 25, CLRSS members will be accepting the help of volunteers (that means you) to clean all of the garbage from in and around the Cowichan River, starting at the weir and going right to Cowichan Bay, where the river dumps into the ocean.
“I’m actually fired up about this year,” said CLRSS president Gerald Thom. “We’re doing from the weir all the way down to the bay, over two days. The Saturday event here at Lake Cowichan, which will get us down to as far as Sandy Pools [in Sahtlam] and then the next day we’re cooperating with Cowichan Tribes and the Cowichan Water Board to do from Sandy Pools to the estuary, which is really cool because it’s never been done before.”
Registration to volunteer for the cleanup begins on Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Lake Cowichan Town Hall and will include a free continental breakfast. Organizers have also arranged for prizes for all volunteers, with items donated by local businesses, and the day will wrap up at 2 p.m. with a free barbeque.
Mountain Man Services is once again providing trucks to haul away the collected garbage, but CLRSS treasurer, Lois Atchison, who is also one of the event organizers, says that those who bring along extra trucks and/or boats to help out will not be turned away.
“And CVRD provides us with free tipping at Meades Creek,” said Thom. “So we usually pull out in excess of a ton, believe it or not. It’s sad, but it’s getting way better than it was when we first started.”
Volunteers are divided into teams and given designated sections of the river to clean up.
“We have team leaders who have specific sections of the river, and they register the people and take them out and make sure that they’re safe and equipped,” said Thom.
Organizers provide all equipment other than footwear and swimwear.
“It’s not just for swimmers,” said Thom. “There’s jobs for people on the shore too. But if people do have a tube, or mask and snorkel, bring it along. It’s always difficult to gear up everybody.”
Thom says that the problem has shuffled from the section between the weir and Little Beach to the Skutz Falls area.
“The garbage down there, it’s so hard to get out,” said Thom. “Because it’s canyon, so we’re going to have a hell of a time trying to get it out.”
Don Barrie from Warm Rapids Inn will be helping out with this section of the river. Barrie has swift water training and will be working with a small group of volunteers.
“Without him we couldn’t even do that section,” said Thom. “It’s too dangerous.”
The Nanaimo dive club is also a key part of the cleanup, says Thom.
“They send divers up every year to do the bottom of the big pool, because no word of a lie, there is feet thick of glass bottles down there.”
Thom says these bottles are still around from when boat houses existed in the area.
“Every year we bring up boat loads of antique glass bottles. And now we’re fishing them back out 100 years later.”
There is no pre-registration required to be part of the cleanup, all you have to do is show up at 9 a.m. on the Saturday and be ready to participate in whatever way you feel comfortable.
All children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult, but all age groups are encouraged to participate.
Gloves and appropriate footwear are a must and are not provided.
For more information go to cowichan-lake-stewards.ca, or phone Atchison at 250-749-3055, or Thom at 250-749-7203.