A giant stuffed rabbit, a creepy wooden crib and a toilet seat are only some of the items that the team from Wetlands Workforce has found along shorelines they’ve been cleaning up since late September.
The organization – whose vision is to protect, restore and promote B.C.’s wetlands and watersheds – deployed a “work pod” of five to specifically tackle their Fraser River Clean-Up project, which they began on Sept. 20.
Starting with the South Arm Marshes and Westham Island, both close to Ladner, they are now working along the Boundary Bay Dyke area until Nov. 5 and have cleaned a total of 29 km so far.
“First and foremost, the project is aimed at healthy watersheds, and estuaries are particularly important ecosystems, especially for all the migratory birds that are making use of that habitat in this area ... From a nature perspective, these ecosystems are very delicate and require a lot of attention,” says Brianna Iwabuchi, a Wetlands Workforce field-crew coordinator.
So far, the pod has removed 4.77 tons of debris, both large and small-scale, from the shorelines, which is early equivalent to the weight of 10 horses.
The most commonly found debris is Styrofoam, some of which is so large that it requires multiple people to lift and some of which is so small that it has to be trapped with a pool net, says Iwabuchi.
Tires, boards, rope, bottles, lighters, plastic bags and shotgun casings are also popular finds.
“Five people working five days a week are making that big of a difference, and I think that’s a really cool thing – it shows that small numbers that are determined can really do a lot,” says Iwabuchi.
The group still has about 20 km more to go, with the future sites including Tsawwassen First Nation’s beach shoreline and Richmond’s West Dyke Trail.
“The Fraser River is such a large river that the amount of debris coming out of it is quite constant,” she adds. “And it’s not just the mainland itself that’s contributing to the debris, it’s anything upriver that’s being pushed all the way down. It’s kind of like a pathway for it.”
All the waste they’re collecting from the shorelines is being brought to Revolution Resource Recovery, who will sort and then recycle and reuse the material that can be repurposed.
Wetlands Workforce is a project “supported by the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which is delivered by the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. and Watersheds B.C., with financial support from the province of British Columbia as part of its $10 billion COVID-19 response.For more information on the organization and their projects, see: www.wetlandsworkforce.ca/.