This year’s Elk River Alliance (ERA) shoreline cleanup saw 82 garbage bags extracted, up from 48 in 2021.
The cleanup took place on Sunday, Sept. 25, and according to Evgeni Matveev of the ERA, 103 volunteers show turned up to clean the river.
“The cleanup went really well this year. It was a beautiful day, and we had lots of families turn up.”
The bags were filled with 5,000 pieces of garbage, Matveev said.
The three main locations for the cleanup were in Fernie at the Dogwood Park boat launch, in Sparwood at the walking bridge by the Elk River trail, and in Elkford at the bridge by Esso, where the ERA was offering garbage bags, gloves, and snacks to participants.
Volunteers also spread beyond the official locations, cleaning at Silver Spring Lakes, the Morrissey put-in and the Line Creek put-in.
An ERA Facebook post about the cleanup says that “To collect this amount of garbage, our volunteers went out of their way to travel to areas further from townsites and bring garbage back; some even floated down the river to collect garbage.”
According to an ERA graphic, the most common item was cigarette butts, with 1,564 removed. There were 520 plastic pieces and 543 beverage cans. The largest piece of garbage was scrap metal that Matveev said was in the river for decades.
“With every year that we do this, it becomes harder and harder to find garbage — a testament to how community action can produce lasting change,” he said, adding a thank you to prize donors and the event’s sponsor.
“This event is a really great indication that people from all over the valley love our Elk River and want to keep it clean.”
The ERA has been hosting Elk River shoreline cleanups since 2011.