Lexi Bainas, Citizen, August 10, 2012
The old lady is getting a real facelift this summer.
The annual Cowichan River cleanup is being officially expanded to become a two-day event.
Starting with a big effort in Lake Cowichan Saturday, Aug. 25, the work will continue Sunday, Aug. 26 along the eastern portions down to Cowichan Bay.
"We’re cleaning the entire river from the weir to the Bay," said Gerald Thom of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society Aug. 9.
"It’s going to be a really spectacular event this year. We’ve spread it over two days. It’s a big expansion for us; we’ve got a lot of partners on board," he said proudly.
The Lake Cowichan effort has been going on for four years, increasing in scope each year.
"Last year we got down to Sandy Pools from the weir and last year we also teamed up with the Cowichan Watershed Board and Cowichan Tribes and had a second event that cleaned up from Sandy Pools down east to Duncan. That helped to get our methods down pat. Now, we’re really excited about this year," he said.
The whole idea is to get the entire heritage river cleaned up for World Rivers Day on Sunday, Sept. 30.
"We’re planning a big event to celebrate the river at Stoltz Pools Park for that day. It’s a real big deal for the Valley," Thom said.
The nuts and bolts of organizing the Lake Cowichan end of the event are pretty well in place but some details are still being ironed out for the cleanup of the lower parts of the Cowichan.
"We’re having our major planning meeting this Monday night, Aug. 13, in Lake Cowichan at the Legion basement starting at 6: 30 p.m.," he said.
On the day, people interested in helping need to show up and register. That’s essential for insurance purposes.
If you’d like more information, call Thom at 250-749-7203.
The upper river event is starting at the Lake Cowichan town hall at 30 South Shore Rd.
This is a family-friendly event as there is plenty to do and opportunities for all ages and abilities to help out on shore as well as in the water. Younger children need to be accompanied by an adult.
Registration is between 9-10 a.m. and organizers are providing a continental breakfast during during the process.
"We’re planning to have the teams hit the river by about 10 a.m. There are team leaders, so each leader knows what area they are responsible for," Thom said.
People should bring appropriate gear for working in the river: shoes that can take a dip, swimwear and gloves.
There are lots of chances for people who want to go into the water, but if you want to join that gang, bring your own dive or snorkel gear.
Volunteers with small aluminum or inflatable rowboats for cleanup or trucks to haul material to the dump will also find plenty to do during the cleanup.
There are also opportunities for people who don’t like to get wet; they can walk the banks and pick up garbage which would otherwise wash into the water when the rains come.
Because many hands make light work, the obligation isn’t overwhelming, either.
"Everything is over by 2 o’clock and everyone comes back to the hall and then we’re providing a barbecue. It’s all supported by local merchants; they’re very good about that," Thom said.
As for the second event on Aug. 26, work is well underway.
"We haven’t got it thoroughly planned out yet but it will be happening and it will be centered at Cowichan Tribes. I think the location will be the same as last year; it was behind the Siem Lelum gym at what they call the Little Big House," he said.
It’s expected to be a similar thing with volunteers registering between 9-10 a.m. and then hitting the river at 10 a.m.
"We want to clean it up so it’s looking its best so everyone can enjoy it on Sept. 30," Thom said.
© Cowichan Valley Citizen 2012