Aaron Nasipayko is helping clean up Kalamalka Lake one standup paddle at a time.
The Vernon financial advisor has made it his summer challenge to collect garbage lying just below the water’s surface and along the shoreline.
So far, in two separate weekend paddles, Nasipayko has attached a wood pallet that he found below the surface at Juniper Bay to his 12-foot-six Tahoe Zephyr paddleboard, paddled four kilometres to shore and, with help from a friend, got the pallet out of the lake and into his vehicle for disposal. Friends of his hauled out two tires last year and have cleaned up the aftermath of shoreline parties.
This past weekend, during a 10-km paddle, he collected garbage from nearly four kilometres of shoreline along the Okanagan Rail Trail.
“Originally, I thought I would be able to weigh what I collect but clearly it’s not going to happen as it’s too much work,” said Nasipayko. “So, instead, I’m going to take pictures to document this journey and the impact along the way.”
Nasipayko, a native of Saskatchewan, has a deep appreciation for lakes, be it for recreation or simply to enjoy the serene beauty of their colours and waters. Last summer, he paddled from one end of Okanagan Lake, in Penticton, to the other, at Head of the Lake off Westside Road, to raise funds for the North Okanagan Hospice Society.
This year, he wanted to do something different. Having paddled hundreds of kilometres on Kal Lake, he wanted to do his part by collecting garbage.
“I think this is something collectively that everyone is doing but this year my intention is to look for it and do something about it,” he said. “Really, how many times can I paddle over garbage that may sit below the water’s surface and not do anything about it? Our lakes are some of the finest in the world and we need to keep them like that for future generations. This includes stopping invasive mussel. Not only that, they are our water source.
“I feel that most people pick up garbage if they are boating and or paddling but it’s not always easy to get or it just falls of your board again.”
He has equipped his paddleboard with crates on the front and back ends, along with cargo netting, so he can easily collect garbage without worrying that it’s just going to fall back in when the next wave hits.
“I know of a few isolated locations on the lake with a lot of garbage that I am going to target this summer and few people have already stepped up to help,” said Nasipayko. “It will be fun, and we will likely need some extra boards to tow some of it out.”
Nasipayko said this summer’s challenge is about him wanting to be able to give back to the community.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to find things that I am truly passionate about and align with whom I am,” he said. “For me right now, this is it, and now that I have started, it will continue and hopefully it will influence others to do the same. It also gives me the opportunity to enjoy nature, get exercise and make an impact all in one activity.
“I think this applies in other ways as well. Maybe the next time you go for a hike, you make it your intent that you come back with more than you left with.”
Nasipayko gave a shout-out to local organization SPrKL, the Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake, a non-profit group whose mission statement reads, “To preserve and protect the quality and health of Kalamalka Lake Watershed for all future generations so that the lake may be enjoyed by all user groups in an environmentally sustainable manner.”
“They have organized days cleaning our waterways and continually strive for ways to spread awareness to keep Kal Lake blue,” said Nasipayko. “This aligns with what they stand for.”