Resident volunteers gathered last Saturday for a stream and bank clean up at Creekside Park in Aldergrove, removing a mass amount of garbage from areas beside Shortreed Elementary School.
Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) hosted the event in partnership with the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society (BCES).
LEPS stewardship co-ordinator Lisa Dreves said it is the first time in years that Creekside was restored to cleanliness by either of the groups.
“We’ve been doing this for years. The problem is still the same. Somebody has to do it,” Dreves admitted.
Just east of Shortreed’s playground lies the conservation area, where a trail runs adjacent to a part of Bertrand Creek. It is one used by Grade 3 to Grade 7 school students of the environmental club.
Diane Kask, a former Grade 3 teacher at the school and founding member of the club, remembers when LEPS first constructed the trail, over a decade ago.
“We wanted to have access to the creek for the club so LEPS cleaned out the blackberries and put paths through that were quite usable until the last couple of years,” Kask explained.
The retired teacher was saddened to see blackberry bushes and trash take over the pathway where kids once planted shrubs and trees. And how all sorts of contaminating trash was found in the creek – from old shopping carts and a child’s swimming pool to a scooter, and a garbage can full of waste.
“There have been issues with homeless camps in the woods there over the years,” Dreves told the Aldergrove Star.
The group worked for hours to extract about 700 pounds of trash from the area. The garbage would have otherwise ended up washed into the creek with rainfall and flowed south into the Nooksack River, endangering the salmon, Dreves said.
Bertrand Creek contains coho salmon, chum salmon, and cutthroat trout as well as two endangered fish species – the Nooksack dace and Salish sucker.
“We made it almost all the way down to the bridge at the end of the Bertrand Creek Estates near 28B Avenue,” which amounts to 300 metres of clean up, Dreves said.
Among the volunteers was Langley-Aldergrove Liberal candidate Leon Jensen who fastened on hip waders and helped lug large items of waste out of the water.
LEPS provided the clean up materials and equipment.
“All of this stuff eventually ends up in the ocean. We do this because we want to make a difference bigger than ourselves,” Dreves emphasized.
The group, which also included those from a Bertrand Creek subdivision, even conducted maintenance on the trail.
“We had a lot of fun doing,” Dreves said.
An instream window exists from Aug. 15 to Sept. 15 where clean up is safest to fish and their habitats, Dreves added, according to Canadian’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
Dreves assured that the remainder of blackberry bushes crowding the trail will be removed during this year’s WaterWeeks, a Langley Township environmental festival which starts on Sept. 29.