Okanagan paddlers help rid Shuswap River of garbage

The seventh annual Shuswap River Cleanup Paddle took place on Sept. 29

A team of canoeists and kayakers from the North Okanagan set afloat in the Shuswap River to clear some of the clutter left by others.

Charles Ruechel of Elements Adventure Co. headed the seventh annual Shuswap River cleanup paddle on Sept. 29. Volunteers began by picking up trash at the Meadows campground in Cherryville before hitting the water. They travelled downstream to the take-out at Wilsey Dam and Shuswap Falls, collecting garbage as they went.

“Participants were motivated and eager to experience this scenic waterway and to give back to the community that they live and play in” said Ruechel, who made sure all were safe and prepared for the day on the river. Before they set off Reuchel instructed paddlers how to communicate on the river and how to avoid possible dangers along the way.

Picking up garbage isn’t something normally thought of as a fun activity, but for these paddlers it’s as good a way to spend a day outdoors as any.

”It’s a fun test of your paddling skills to weave in and around obstacles in order to collect some of the garbage. It also feels great to do something for the river while meeting other paddlers from the region” said Ruechel.

“My hope is that this event brings awareness of how to care for the river, and inspires other communities to do the same.”

By the end of the day enough garbage to fill the back of a pickup truck was collected. Afterwards the paddlers were treated to a hot meal courtesy of local volunteers from the Mabel Lake Community Club at their community hall.

READ MORE: Vernon students to study the health of local rivers

Though the work is done for this year’s event, the Mabel Lake Community Club reminds that keeping the river clean is a year-round job on the part of everyone.

“We plead with river users to remove all items at the end of their day. Otherwise the high water or winds will pick these items up and deposit them downstream,” says Russ Collins of the Mabel Lake Community Club.

The Mabel Lake Community Club also wants riverside property owners to know it’s against the law to remove vegetation or alter the land within 30 m of the high water line without a permit – reason being that fish need that vegetation for shade to keep the water cool and for protection against predators.

Collins says he and members of the community club have observed this problem more often in recent years.

“There are an increasing number of riverside property owners who have cleared or altered the riparian area to make room for gazebos, cabins, trailers or simply to enjoy the river view.”

Plans for next year’s paddle are already underway, and those interested in participating can contact info@elementsadventures.com, when volunteers will traverse from Shuswap Falls down to Mabel Lake.

READ MORE: Over 500 species of mushrooms documented in B.C.

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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