Get ready to roll up your sleeves to clean up your community, as the town's annual cleanup for Pitch-In Week has been scheduled for Sunday, April 17.
This year's event is more ambitious than last year’s, during which time the majority of volunteers were the town's elected officials and their families. This time around, volunteers with the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society are lending their hands to the effort.
The society's goal for the day will be the cleanup of Beaver Creek; mainly the area of the creek located next to Hans' Butcher Shop at the western end of the Rhododendron Park.
As a result of mainly bears and raccoons getting into unprotected garbage receptacles, a large amount of refuse has been collected in the area, which can potentially disturbing fish habitats.
"There's a lot of debris in the creek. These are obstacles to the fish," society president Bob Crandall said. Imagine swimming 7,000 kilometers and getting stuck in a shopping cart, he added. That's a pretty poor contribution to the fish's trip, courtesy of humans.
"It's time for the humans to make a better contribution," Crandall said. "We would like to protect and clear the entire creek."
The creek begins at Beaver Lake, winds around South Shore road up to the town's Rhododendron Park, and continues on until it drains into the Cowichan River, near the weir.
Every year, Crandall said, about 400 paired coho salmon find their way up Beaver Creek to spawn.
With 200 females producing about 2,500 eggs a piece, he said, "That's a lot of eggs, and a lot of baby fish going up and down."
Valley Fish and Game Club volunteers have already joined forces with Salmonid Enhancement Society volunteers to clear up part of the upper portion of the creek. Communities in Bloom have also helped clear out creek debris, and plan on continuing these efforts.
Another component to this year's Pitch-In Week cleanup will be the cleaning up of the town's BMX bike tracks that run through the lower Centennial Park area.
Like last year, the town's elected officials and their families are inviting the public to join them in their cleanup of Lake Cowichan.
This will be the first step in a volunteer process of clearing up the town's BMX tracks, which has become over-grown over the years.
A delegation of local BMX enthusiasts approached council a few months ago, requesting that something be done with the tracks.
Those interested in volunteering for either component of the clean-up are encouraged to meet at the Lower Centennial Park's BMX track area at 9 a.m., Sunday, April 17. Hot dogs will be cooked on-site for volunteers, and garbage bags will be provided.