Peachland Watershed Volunteers Clean Up!

The 2023 version of the Peachland Watershed community cleanup, organized by the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance (PWPA), the Okanagan Forest Task Force (OFTF), took place on Saturday May 6, 2023. And again, volunteers hauled a disturbing volume and assortment of trash and illegally dumped garbage from the Peachland backcountry.

The usual assortment of household appliances including a dishwasher and refrigerator were recovered from the steep ravine, along with mattresses, furniture, tires, and car parts.  Further up the road, volunteers discovered a construction materials dump, consisting of large concrete blocks, a pile of asphalt and what appeared to be components of a grow op.  Several easily accessible areas also appear to have been used as a shooting range, with scattered shotgun shells littering the hiking trails and wildlife habitat. New to this year’s cleanup are the appearance of used pigeons, or skeets, at several locations in the forest, as well as 3 pairs of snow skis and someone’s old college notebooks and textbooks!

“The sheer variety of garbage tells the sad story that illegal dumpers are a diverse group, from commercial outfits, to supposed outdoor enthusiasts,” says Taryn Skalbania, PWPA co-founder. “The disrespect for the wilderness is quite depressing to see year after year.  It’s not getting better”.

One bit of good news for the volunteers was the early winter last year as it snowed early and deep, preventing access to some of the favourite dumping locations. There was not a lot to cleanup in the upper reaches of the forest.  This meant the crew had the chance to tackle the backlog of trash that they weren’t able to get to last spring.

While the annual event is satisfying for all who participated, it’s still shocking to see how much garbage was collected in one day. The final tally was 6,960 pounds of scrap metal, and 5,975 pounds of garbage for a total haul of 12,935 pounds of trash removed from the forest.

With assistance from Okanagan Forest Task Force, the District of Peachland, Regional District Central Okanagan, GFL Waste, Peachland Fire and Rescue Service, ABC Recycling, Rotary who supplied coffee and drinks, and Peachland Lions who provided a hot dog BBQ, along with the environmentally minded support of the many volunteers who participated this year, this cleanup was another unqualified success.

As K̓ninm̓tm̓ taʔ n̓q̓ʷic̓tn̓s Wilfred “Grouse” Barnes of Westbank First Nation explains “Us Elders, us syilx people, this is our land. This is our water. For us to help protect it, to help keep it clean, it is far better than just talking about it, all I can say is action is better than words – to take action, to really just get out on the land, get your hands dirty picking up stuff — walk and talk.”

PWPA wants to help do more – CAN YOU HELP?

Due to an extremely early and high snow pack, most of the garbage was focused in one area, and all collected lower down, nearer to the Tolko log site and Princeton ave corridor, Snow was too deep to access the usual spots, campsites and most forestry roads.

But there are still plenty of old cars in the canyon. But vehicles proved to be too deep to easily be retrieved.
BUT!-Kane Blake of OFTF has told us his new tow truck has a 150′ tow line/chain, AND he is ordering a 2nd one, 500′, to assist in longer, steeper vehicle recoveries like the those in Peachland creek.

PWPA director’s approved a  donation to OFTF specifically towards this new length of tow line. PWPA also made a friendly challenge to the District of Peachland to match our donation that could go towards funding this acquisition for their non profit?  We feel it’s worth the request, and we could tick off a pretty pig box for watershed health!