Community care for Elk River at clean-up Community care for Elk River at clean-up

Community members showed up to demonstrate their love and care of the Elk River at the seventh annual Shoreline Clean-up on Sunday October 1.

“So many people enjoyed the cool, clear, clean waters of the Elk River during this hot dry summer,” said Lee-Anne Walker, Elk River Alliance (ERA) Executive Director. “I’ve never seen so many floaters, fishers, paddlers, dogs swimming, people picnicking, throwing rocks and generally appreciating this ribbon of life connecting our communities.”

Elkford’s clean-up was co-sponsored with the Elkford ATV Club.

“Murray Haight and club members have been so supportive cleaning the river in their community for the past number of years,” noted Walker. “In fact a few years ago they pulled out the largest piece of trash in the Canadian-wide event – a bridge from the 2013 flood! We are also thankful to Wildsight-Elk Valley Branch for their continued partnership. Together groups can leverage their memberships and resources and make a larger impact in the watershed.”

Between the three communities of Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford, 87 volunteers came out to clean-up the Elk River.

The clean-up focused on boat-launches, walking trails by the river, parks, pull-outs, parking-lots and wetlands. Garbage was also cleared from in the water from canoe, wading and special thanks to Canyon Raft Company staff for hauling lots of rusting metal out of the river bank.

Public paths along the river were relatively clean, whereas other areas were loaded with garbage including the take-outs along the highway, maiden lake and parking lot, and coal creek rd. More than 50 garbage bags full of cigarette butts, food and drink containers, inflatable tubes and fishing gear, along with a large pile of scrap metal and tires, weighing approximately 500 lbs was collected from along the banks.

Some of the most unusual items found were many plastic yellow ducks from a fundraiser in town and several shoes.

Two classes (approximately 48 students) at the Fernie Secondary School also helped to clean-up garbage the following day as part of the broader initiative. The Elk River Clean-Up is part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-Up, a national effort to clean-up Canada’s water ways.

Volunteers gathered around garbage in Fernie after clean-up Sunday afternoon.

Other supporters of the event included the Districts of Elkford and Sparwood and City of Fernie, for hauling away the trash. Businesses also supported with supplies and hospitality for volunteers.

“Kootenay Market and East Kootenay Community Credit Union in Elkford, Overwaitea in Sparwood, Home Hardware, Ann’s Independent, and Save On in Fernie. Thank you for your generous donations and show of support for the river,” said Walker. “Also a big shout out to our general sponsor of the clean-up, BC Hydro’s Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.”

This summer ERA launched an Elk River Map Guide and 14 Geocache Sites from Elk Lakes Provincial Park to the mouth with Lake Koocanusa, with financial support from Columbia Basin Trust, Teck and Tourism Fernie. At the Shoreline Clean-Up, ERA celebrated the winner of the summer contest who visited the most sites and answer skill testing questions.

The family commented: “The Elk River Alliance led us on a great adventure this summer as we found all fourteen of the geocaches they had hid throughout the Elk Watershed. Through this hunt we discovered many amazing places and learned a lot more about this beautiful area we live in. This was a favourite, and we will certainly be back next year!”

The ERA encourage others to get into geocaching in the Elk Watershed, a combination of treasure hunting, technology and outdoor family fun.

To find the Elk Watershed Geocache visit or a link from the ERA website at

The Elk River Alliance (ERA) is a valley wide community-based water group dedicated to connecting people to the Elk River watershed keeping it drinkable, fishable and swimmable for future generations.

For more information call (250) 423-3322 or [email protected]

Lead image: Volunteers collecting garbage in Elkford. Photos submitted

Submitted by Lee-Anne Walker,

ERA Executive Director

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