The largest turnout ever was recorded Sunday at the B.C. Rivers’ Day cleanup on the Chilliwack/Vedder River system.
A total of 338 river stewards rolled up their sleeves to pick up other people’s trash to protect pristine river habitat.
“This was our 11th annual Rivers’ Day event, and it was a very successful day,” said Lew Chater of the Chilliwack-Vedder River Cleanup Society.
“Every year the event seems to grow. The fabulous weather we’ve been having might have had something to do with it, as well as some good publicity about the event.”
The group was thrilled with the solid participation so many youth volunteers this year.
“This is where it all starts — with the young people. This kind of behaviour, where we actively protect the river, has to be taught and modeled.”
With about 90 people more than usual showing up, they were able to get into areas rarely covered by cleanups in the upper reaches of the river system.
“We’re making a difference,” said Chater. “I compare it to graffiti. If you remove it, you get less, and that’s what we’re seeing.”
On his route, he came across a tent abandoned with sleeping bags inside, as well as a campfire that had been left burning by careless campers, less than 30 feet from the river.
One of the many cleanup volunteers was Patti MacAhonic, executive director of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, who called it a “privilege” to help out alongside her neighbours.
“We are all here to give something back, to do our part maintaining our valuable public resource,” said MacAhonic in a release.
Sport fishing is a major tourist attraction for both domestic and foreign tourism markets in B.C.
“The sector supports about 7,700 jobs provincially, in our province alone sport fishing generates $288 million a year in GDP of which the community of Chilliwack is a significant beneficiary,” she said.