A volunteer diver takes a breath during an underwater clean up of Kootenay Lake in Nelson on Oct. 17. Photo: Mike Sagal

A volunteer diver takes a breath during an underwater clean up of Kootenay Lake in Nelson on Oct. 17. Photo: Mike Sagal

Volunteer divers clean up Nelson shore

A team hauled trash out from Kootenay Lake

Submitted by Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society

On Oct. 17, a group of volunteers worked together to organize an unconventional Kootenay Lake clean up.

This foreshore clean up was organized by the Kootenay Pedalwheelers, Kootenay Lake Sailing Association, West Kootenay Boating Association, and Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society. The goal was to address the issue of excessive litter below the water surface between the Prestige Marina and Lakeside Park.

The idea was conceived during recreational dives conducted by Jay Blackmore and Bruce Morrison. The divers noticed that there was a large amount of trash and debris along the lakebed in the high traffic shopping and dining district of Nelson.

Jay approached the Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society and asked if they would like to help co-ordinate a volunteer cleaning of the foreshore area using divers.

After months of planning, fundraising, and gathering donations and supplies, the team was ready to begin the first foreshore clean up on Kootenay Lake’s West Arm. Bruce and Jay suited up in their diving gear and plunged into the late fall waters. They used mesh bags to hold small pieces of trash, plastic bits, and cans. These bags along with larger items such as chairs, shopping carts, and tires were hoisted up by custom-made grappling hooks, donated by ArcWright Welding in Nelson, B.C.

Volunteers on the docks of the Prestige Marina patiently waited for the divers to signal that another haul of trash was ready to be pulled up to the surface. There was a consistent element of suspense, wondering what the divers would hook next! The dry land team would then sort cans from trash and load the growing trash pile into two small boats. Once full, the boats travelled to Lakeside Park to dispose of the various items in a bin donated by Mountain Bin.

Most of the garbage were items that had fallen off the docks in the strong lake winds commonly experienced down at the marina. Some of the items of note were two tricycles, five car tires, two boat windshields, five chairs, one small boat, and numerous cans and lighters. Nearing the end of the clean-up, the goal of reaching Lakeside Park became a loftier ambition than expected, with the four-hour clean-up only scratching the surface of the entire area to be cleaned.

The team all agreed that this event should be an annual occurrence, and that time spent combing the foreshore for trash with like-minded lake stewards was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

This clean up couldn’t have happened without the dedicated work of the volunteers from Kootenay Lake Sailing Association, West Kootenay Boating Association, and Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society.

This event was sponsored by Columbia Basin Trust with in-kind support from the City of Nelson, Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resources Operations Fish and Wildlife Branch, the Prestige Lakeside Resort and to Thor’s Pizzeria and Backroads Brewing. Thank you for your support in waiving tipping fees, helping us apply for permitting, and for providing refreshments after the event!

If you would like to support these and other efforts on the lake, consider becoming a member of any three of these community-based organizations. For any questions about this event, you can contact Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society Program Manager Camille LeBlanc at info@friendsofkootenaylake.ca.

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